That's a long shot for Ishant Sharma!
Ishant Sharma would be a crestfallen man after the hammering that James Faulkner handed out to him in the third ODI at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Saturday. The lanky fast bowler, who at one point of time was touted as India’s best pace-bowling prospect, was carted for 30 runs in the 48th over of the Australian innings and needless to say, it was all downhill for the hosts from there on.
India trail 1-2 in the long-drawn seven-match series and given the current situation, George Bailey’s men are favourites to upstage MS Dhoni & Co by the time the caravan reaches Bangalore for the last match in early November. The Indian selectors meanwhile, sprung a surprise by sticking to the same squad for the remainder of the series and needless to say, Ishant would have heaved a sigh of relief and thanked his stars.
Ishant’s unfortunate performance when India found themselves in a relatively comfortable situation — they were defending 44 runs in the remaining three overs — had the mind racing back to another tragic result when India lost the Australasia Cup final to Pakistan off the last ball. The latter needed four runs to triumph and in ran Chetan Sharma.
The paceman ended up delivering a full toss and Javed Miandad hit him over the mid-wicket fence to give his side a memorable win. India were shattered, and such was the impact of this mighty assault that they struggled to compete with their rivals in Sharjah for many years after this episode. To his credit, Sharma went on to take a hat-trick against New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup and also scored a ODI ton during the course of his career, but when it comes to remembering his contribution to Indian cricket, the six that Miandad hit him for is the first thing that fans recall.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Sharma empathised with Ishant and was hopeful that he would make a fighting comeback in the remaining games. “I can understand the pressure Ishant is feeling, but now that he has got a lifeline, he should make the most of it,” said Sharma. Sharma also acknowledged the fact that Ishant has not delivered in the series and on current form he should have been axed.
“If I were a selector, I would have gone for Jaydev Unadkat or Shami Ahmed as Ishant is low on confidence at the moment. But I feel that the selectors have the 2015 World Cup in mind so they are giving the players enough opportunities to prove themselves,” he said.
So how does a player deal with such a traumatic experience? Apart from the 30-run over in Mohali, Ishant has been at the receiving end consistently, giving away 189 runs for his two wickets in 24 overs spread over three games. His economy rate now stands at 7.87.
“I feel Ishant can only get better from here. “He has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he can pull off a good spell in the next game, his morale would receive a boost and things could probably change from there,” observed Sharma. That’s also precisely what all his fans would be praying for.