B'Day special: Ishant - the only productive toiler in India's pace pack
On India's current lead pacer Ishant Sharma's birthday, mid-day looks at how he manages to deliver his best when it is required from him
Melbourne: In the first session of Day Three, Ryan Harris and Josh Hazelwood only bowled two balls between them that pitched on the line of the stumps to Virat Kohli. The rest were immaculately on the fourth or the fifth stump line, trying to induce the edge. On a pitch offering no seam movement, it was a splendid spell. It was an example for the Indian seamers to follow.
Come morning of Day four, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami had two left-handed batsmen to confront in Chris Rogers and David Warner. If the pair had learned from the clinic of Harris, they would have pitched most of the balls on just about off stump and going across the left-handers, trying to induce the edge.
Ishant Sharma. Pic/ AFP
Instead, in the first six overs, only five balls pitched on the line of off-stump while the others pitched outside leg or on leg stump. It was a horrible piece of bowling and cost India 39 runs.
Ishant Sharma, the leader, the toiler and the improver continues to bowl the wrong length at times but throughout Day Four he stuck to a line that Harris would have been delighted with. Even in the first innings, Ishant only bowled one ball that pitched on leg stump and the rest were on the good length outside off stump.
Lack of support
Even on Day Four, the lanky paceman had failed to offer pies on the leg stump and nagged away on a probing length. Steven Smith, Warner and Shaun Marsh could only manage to score 14 runs in the 56 deliveries bowled by Ishant. It was a creditable performance and needed support from the other end.
The only companion Ishant found was spinner Ravichandran Ashwin; the other two pacers failed to stick to their tasks miserably. Ishant and Ashwin finished the day with combined figures of 4-105 from 41 overs while Umesh Yadav and Shami went for 3-148 in 34 overs.
Ishant has stood up to an extent in the series, but the emerging crop failed to back him. Had he had some support, perhaps the fate of the match would have been in India’s hand rather than Australia’s.