Ishant Sharma could well be the bowling answer that India is looking for if they have to stop the all powerful South Africa from running away with the Test series. The strapping six feet four inch Delhi pacer will have to sit out of the opening Test in Mohali following a one Test ban which was imposed on him after he clashed with Sri Lankan Dinesh Chandimal.
Javagal Srinath who was the spearhead of the Indian pace attack sometime back feels that Ishatnt has it in him to lead the Indian attack. “After the retirement of Zaheer, I feel it is Ishant who is best suited to lead the Indian pace attack. He is a much improved bowler now and has shown the hunger and determination to thrive in tough conditions,” he said.,
Srinath quoted the recent five wicket haul of Ishant in the Colombo Test. “I think he (Ishant) showcased his strength on a pitch that was not quite conducive for fast bowling. It was really heartening to see Ishant take five wickets in the second innings--- he was quite unplayable. Now to come up with such a lethal spell on the Sri Lankan pitches is something of a revelation, “ said Srinath.
Well a peek at Ishant’s five wicket hauls prove that the lanky pacer has excelled in the livelier conditions abroad. Out of the seven five wicket hauls in Ishant’s career, six have come abroad and not once in India. Out of these two each have come in New Zealand and West Indies which offer a lot of assistance to the fast bowlers. But then Srinath said that Ishant was a much improved bowler now and I am sure he will know what it takes to excel in Indian conditions. I think the five wicket haul against Sri Lanka must have come as a huge boost to him,” said Srinath.
Even in terms of experience, Srinath feels that Ishant is the most experienced Test bowler “When you take into account the fact that Ishant has taken 200 wickets in 65 Tests, he is a clear favourite for spearheading India’s fast bowling. Let’s not forget that a bowler who has claimed 200 wickets in Tests has a world of experience. So even in terms of experience, Ishant is right up there,” said Srinath.
He has taken 7 five wicket hauls. Out of these, six have been outside the country and the lone one came in India against Pakistan at the MA Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in 2007. The other two have been against New Zealand twice (2014), West Indies 2011, and the most recent one came against Sri Lanka in Colombo earlier this year,
When queried whether Ishant’s aggression sometimes tended to cross the line, Srinath came up with a valid point. “Its very important for a fast bowler to have aggression. Only with this trait can the bowler manage to get wickets and to a certain extent rattle the batsmen. But then one thing is for sure. The bowler must ensure that he does not cross the line even once. He has to limit himself and see to it that he doesn’t get too excited,” said Srinath.
Meanwhile talking about India’s chances in the forthcoming Test series against South Africa, Srinath felt that India had a more balanced bowling attack in the longest format compared to South Africa which will provide them with an edge. "With India, it has always been a combination of pace spin (that works for them). Spinners play a big role at home. If not 50-50, I would expect the faster bowlers to take 40 percent of the wickets. If you include the spinners, it is a fairly decent attack and gives India the edge in the Test series," he remarked.
Srinath felt that India is probably not going to see a major change for the Tests as far their bowling line-up is concerned. Apart from Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will be the other seamers in the fray. “Our bowlers will have to make best use of the conditions—I feel our Test pace attack is going to be much better than our ODI and T 20 attacks,” he added.