India hopeful on Ishant fitness for Old Trafford
India's bowling coach, Joe Dawes, is confident Ishant Sharma will be fit by the time the fourth Test begins, in Manchester on August 7. Ishant, Man of the Match at Lord's for his seven-wicket haul in the second innings, had to be withdrawn from the Southampton Test in what seemed to be a last-minute move. MS Dhoni said he would have played Ishant had this been a one-day match, but he didn't want to risk him over five days.
Pankaj Singh, Ishant's replacement, was put on standby Saturday night, according to Dawes, which suggests India were not confident of Ishant's availability. Dawes said Ishant has "a bit of a sore leg", further tests on which are yet to be done. "There are eleven days or so to the next Test, and I am confident that he can pull through," Dawes said.
Pankaj might have been given the message to stay prepared for a debut, but the final call wasn't made until the teams got to the ground an hour before toss. Ishant tried bowling, but pulled up a little sore. However, Dawes saying that they hadn't made the decision right until toss time is a bit of an exaggeration. Ishant had been in a warm jacket and doing nothing for about 20 minutes leading up to the toss, which was a clear indication.
Pankaj had a mixed day in the field. He was desperately unlucky in having Alastair Cook dropped off his bowling, and then missing out on what looked like a pretty straightforward lbw decision against Ian Bell. Towards the end of the day, though, he took a bit of tap, getting pulled, cut and driven off the toes.
"After ten years, it was a dream come true," Pankaj told Star Sports. "Really happy to make my debut, but I would have liked to get a wicket for my team. Hopefully I get some tomorrow. It's an unbelievable feeling. Can't put it in words. Tried my best, but things haven't happened. Hopefully tomorrow that changes."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo