India v Australia, 1st Test, Mohali, 4th day October 4, 2010

Ishant finally makes an impact

ESPNcricinfo staff
21

Six years ago, Australia set India 229 to win a Test match in Chennai. India knocked off 19 before stumps on the fourth day, but an overnight deluge reduced Chepauk to a swamp and deprived what would have been a capacity crowd of a nailbiting climax. At Mohali tomorrow, rain is unlikely to be a factor and this abbreviated series will almost certainly get the result that sets up the Bangalore game as a must-win for one side.

Australia are clear favourites, having taken four top-order wickets. VVS Laxman, who averages nearly 50 in the team's second innings, is struggling with back spasms and will only bat if required, while the tail will need to offer far sterner resistance than they did on the third afternoon.

Successful fourth-innings chases of this magnitude are rare, and India have pulled off just two against Australia when the target has been in excess of 200. The only instance on Indian soil came as far back as 46 years ago, when sedate half-centuries from Dilip Sardesai and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, combined with a rather more brisk 30 from Chandu Borde saw them edge past a 254-run target.

After some spectacular final-day collapses in the 1990s and the early part of the new millennium, India have been less of a soft touch in recent times. At Chennai in 2008, they famously chased down 387 against England after Sehwag's blazing 83 on the fourth evening ensured that they could bat normally on the final day. As recently as August, they slumped to 62 for 4 at the P Sara Oval in Colombo before Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina saw them past 257 with a measure of comfort.

The drama of the afternoon seemed a world away as Australia dominated most of a morning session in which India were as listless as they had been on the opening day. Then, with the score on 87 - Australia's unlucky number - it all changed. It was a filthy delivery from Ishant, short and wide, but Watson, who had batted with real purpose for 56, only dragged it on.

Ricky Ponting followed, essaying an equally poor pull and Ishant could have had three in the over but for a no-ball referral from Billy Bowden. Michael Clarke was walking off by the time he went up to the TV umpire, and Ishant's emotions, after a frankly rotten match, boiled over. "When you get excited, run in really fast and are desperate for a wicket, you make these kind of mistakes," he said after the day's play. "But you need to control your breath and emotions and try to get a good rhythm. The seniors help when I get excited. He [Bowden] was doing his job and I was doing mine. If he's given a no-ball, then it's a no-ball."

Daljit Singh, the curator, suggested that the pitch played quicker on the fourth day as a result of the moisture in it having evaporated after three days of sunshine. Ishant bowled a clever short ball to nail Clarke - "I think there was more bounce compared to the first innings," he said - and was relieved to be back among the wickets after a string of indifferent performances that he attributed to a minor tweak in his approach to the wicket.

"I struggled in Sri Lanka as well because I have shortened my run-up by two steps," he said. "It's just two steps, but it's taking time to find my old rhythm. I'm missing my steps a little bit. I spoke to Zak about it, and a few seniors in my team. The good thing is that I'm still bowling at the same pace that I was getting with my previous run-up."

India's pursuit of 216 got off to the worst possible start, but having benefited from a terrible decision to get rid of Michael Hussey, the Indians weren't about to point the finger at the officials after Gautam Gambhir whacked the ball on to his pad and watched bemused as Bowden lifted the crooked finger. "That's part and parcel of the game," said Ishant. "No one feels good about that but you can only control what's in your hands."

Only Tendulkar, hero of the Chennai chase, and MS Dhoni remain of the specialist batsmen and the 161 runs needed will appear a million miles away if either is dismissed early on the final morning. Ben Hilfenhaus, who bowled a fabulous spell to send India into a tailspin before stumps, promised to put Tendulkar "under the pump" and there will be more than a few damaged cuticles in the Indian dressing room after he takes fresh guard tomorrow. "When four of your best batsmen get out, the mood is a little bit tense," said Ishant. "But everyone is in a good frame of mind and we believe that whoever is at the crease can do a job for the team. We'll try our level best."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kieran_ on October 5, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    @Nampally, are you mad?! How can you say that Sehwag is not fit and out of form. He has averaged 66 this year with a strike-rate of 92! Just in the last game he got a century and in the one before that he got 99! Also, how could you say Laxman should retire due to back spasms in just one game. He took a fine catch early on in this match, no signs of back trouble there, and this year he's average 91 and done very well in pressure situations, just like he's doing/did for India in the match.

    In regards to Ishant Sharma, I think he can only get better and I'm sure he isn't close to his peak, provided injuries stay away. He should be given exposure to bouncier pitches and then he sure develop properly as a bowler, as opposed to the batsmen friendly pitches in India.

  • Ooops on October 5, 2010, 4:44 GMT

    After second inning performance, he can play 4-5 more tests, In first inning he was really injured or afraid............getting hit around

  • smudgeon on October 5, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    Despite an average record, I truly believe Ishant has the makings of a good bowler. He's still young, so now is the time that India need to invest in developing his obvious talents. In fact, given the paucity of current fast bowling options, have the BCCI or team management thought about making the development of future pace bowling options a priority (it's a genuine question, I really don't know if this is already being done)? India's batting is sewn up, they continually produce high quality spinners, but Kapil, Zaheer and Srinath aside, quality pace bowlers are non-existent.

  • Meety on October 5, 2010, 1:21 GMT

    I can see where are lot of Indian fans are coming from when bagging Ishant, (10-ball over & tame series v SL). Its funny I see the way Ishant is viewed is similar to Kaneria in Pakistan, I think he is more admired outside of his own country. I actually think that Sharma if he was born in Oz would be playing test cricket for Oz, he is an exceptional talent, unfortunately over half of his test will be played on Indian soil where his talent is nullified, (hits the deck hard for steep bounce at pace). India need to stick with him because he will be far more deadly than Zak on foreign soil. I rate him very highly - I think he was the first bowler to put a genuine chink in Pontings confidence back in 2006. In 2006/07 Sharma was bowling @ over 150km p/hr with control. No Indian has done that before at that level of control - he has it in him, unfortunately he will best be remembered by people overseas I think. I thought it would be thru Sharma that India become the genuine #1 TEST side.

  • Deenesh on October 5, 2010, 0:48 GMT

    Ishant is too inconsistent. India deserve better, and shud have better for a team tht sits at the top of the test cricket food chain. Bring back Sreesanth.

  • Nampally on October 4, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    It is sad to see the Indian team Selectors persisting in including physically unfit players in the side.100% Physical fitness should be #1 selection criterion. Vijay should have played instead of Sehwag who is not only 50% fit but out of form. If Ishant is still unfit, Unadkat will provide a good pace bowling alternate. Laxman should announce his retirement because his back spasm have become a regular event - the last one was in last test in SL. Pujara will be a good batsman to replace Laxman. Finally if Harbhajan is still unfit, get Ashwin to replace him. It is better to have a fit 11 who will focus playing as hard as they can than unfit guys. Tomorrow Sachin must stay at one end and Zahir should stay there as though he is the last man. Once the initial hour passes without any loss, India stand a good chance of winning. But if they lose a wicket in the first hour, it will be tough to win unless the next man, Laxman.reproduces his winning innings against the SL. Good Luck India!.

  • MasterClass on October 4, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    India need to seriously think about playing 3 seamers and only 1 spinner unless the wicket is a rank turner.

  • sriniaiyer on October 4, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Ishant has been given his chances.He has failed to grab them.His performace in the last 18 months has been lacklustre.We have to try Munaf Patel,RP Singh,Unadkat,Pankaj Singh.Talent alone doesnt deserve a place int he team.Performances do.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on October 4, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    @ ProdigyBuz, that would be a great idea IF there were other bowlers almost guaranteed to do a better job. Sreesanth was innefective in the warm-ups and hasn't been bowling anything special in ODI's or t-20's to suggest any sleeping form and he's the next best option. Mithun looks like just another random bowler and his style of bowling is exactly what Aus are accustomed to. @Ail Ishmail. Vijay?! on what basis? CLT20? lol

  • Dr.K.H.Iyer on October 4, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    Never has any Indian paceman developed into what he promised except Kapil!

    Srinath was probably the finest paceman India ever produced, even more talented than Kapil! He had the pace and was the first Indian, I daresay, to touch 150 kmph! His spells in 94-95 in England and later in SA; made the opponents look like toys!His offcutters were the best I ever saw! One dismissal of Llorne Howell still refuses to fade away! If only he had a genuine pace partner other than Prasad!

    The young Zaheer was a delight who could York anyone at will! Then he became what one could call a mediocre paceman! Late in his career, perhaps later than it should have been, he has found wisdom and has become such an awesome bowler. Zaheer & Srinath have made it to the "greats" list by doing half of what they could have! We need a better breeding ground for pacemen!

  • Kieran_ on October 5, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    @Nampally, are you mad?! How can you say that Sehwag is not fit and out of form. He has averaged 66 this year with a strike-rate of 92! Just in the last game he got a century and in the one before that he got 99! Also, how could you say Laxman should retire due to back spasms in just one game. He took a fine catch early on in this match, no signs of back trouble there, and this year he's average 91 and done very well in pressure situations, just like he's doing/did for India in the match.

    In regards to Ishant Sharma, I think he can only get better and I'm sure he isn't close to his peak, provided injuries stay away. He should be given exposure to bouncier pitches and then he sure develop properly as a bowler, as opposed to the batsmen friendly pitches in India.

  • Ooops on October 5, 2010, 4:44 GMT

    After second inning performance, he can play 4-5 more tests, In first inning he was really injured or afraid............getting hit around

  • smudgeon on October 5, 2010, 2:17 GMT

    Despite an average record, I truly believe Ishant has the makings of a good bowler. He's still young, so now is the time that India need to invest in developing his obvious talents. In fact, given the paucity of current fast bowling options, have the BCCI or team management thought about making the development of future pace bowling options a priority (it's a genuine question, I really don't know if this is already being done)? India's batting is sewn up, they continually produce high quality spinners, but Kapil, Zaheer and Srinath aside, quality pace bowlers are non-existent.

  • Meety on October 5, 2010, 1:21 GMT

    I can see where are lot of Indian fans are coming from when bagging Ishant, (10-ball over & tame series v SL). Its funny I see the way Ishant is viewed is similar to Kaneria in Pakistan, I think he is more admired outside of his own country. I actually think that Sharma if he was born in Oz would be playing test cricket for Oz, he is an exceptional talent, unfortunately over half of his test will be played on Indian soil where his talent is nullified, (hits the deck hard for steep bounce at pace). India need to stick with him because he will be far more deadly than Zak on foreign soil. I rate him very highly - I think he was the first bowler to put a genuine chink in Pontings confidence back in 2006. In 2006/07 Sharma was bowling @ over 150km p/hr with control. No Indian has done that before at that level of control - he has it in him, unfortunately he will best be remembered by people overseas I think. I thought it would be thru Sharma that India become the genuine #1 TEST side.

  • Deenesh on October 5, 2010, 0:48 GMT

    Ishant is too inconsistent. India deserve better, and shud have better for a team tht sits at the top of the test cricket food chain. Bring back Sreesanth.

  • Nampally on October 4, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    It is sad to see the Indian team Selectors persisting in including physically unfit players in the side.100% Physical fitness should be #1 selection criterion. Vijay should have played instead of Sehwag who is not only 50% fit but out of form. If Ishant is still unfit, Unadkat will provide a good pace bowling alternate. Laxman should announce his retirement because his back spasm have become a regular event - the last one was in last test in SL. Pujara will be a good batsman to replace Laxman. Finally if Harbhajan is still unfit, get Ashwin to replace him. It is better to have a fit 11 who will focus playing as hard as they can than unfit guys. Tomorrow Sachin must stay at one end and Zahir should stay there as though he is the last man. Once the initial hour passes without any loss, India stand a good chance of winning. But if they lose a wicket in the first hour, it will be tough to win unless the next man, Laxman.reproduces his winning innings against the SL. Good Luck India!.

  • MasterClass on October 4, 2010, 23:38 GMT

    India need to seriously think about playing 3 seamers and only 1 spinner unless the wicket is a rank turner.

  • sriniaiyer on October 4, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Ishant has been given his chances.He has failed to grab them.His performace in the last 18 months has been lacklustre.We have to try Munaf Patel,RP Singh,Unadkat,Pankaj Singh.Talent alone doesnt deserve a place int he team.Performances do.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on October 4, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    @ ProdigyBuz, that would be a great idea IF there were other bowlers almost guaranteed to do a better job. Sreesanth was innefective in the warm-ups and hasn't been bowling anything special in ODI's or t-20's to suggest any sleeping form and he's the next best option. Mithun looks like just another random bowler and his style of bowling is exactly what Aus are accustomed to. @Ail Ishmail. Vijay?! on what basis? CLT20? lol

  • Dr.K.H.Iyer on October 4, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    Never has any Indian paceman developed into what he promised except Kapil!

    Srinath was probably the finest paceman India ever produced, even more talented than Kapil! He had the pace and was the first Indian, I daresay, to touch 150 kmph! His spells in 94-95 in England and later in SA; made the opponents look like toys!His offcutters were the best I ever saw! One dismissal of Llorne Howell still refuses to fade away! If only he had a genuine pace partner other than Prasad!

    The young Zaheer was a delight who could York anyone at will! Then he became what one could call a mediocre paceman! Late in his career, perhaps later than it should have been, he has found wisdom and has become such an awesome bowler. Zaheer & Srinath have made it to the "greats" list by doing half of what they could have! We need a better breeding ground for pacemen!

  • on October 4, 2010, 20:39 GMT

    I would prefer Vijay Opening over Gambhir and Pujara should be a given a Chance to Play in the next game,,,,,,,,,,........................

  • Roshini on October 4, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    Don't you worry Indians..You have what it takes to be true champions..My prediction is that if Zaheer Khan scores between 25-30 India wins the game hands down. Remember there's a proven master still at the crease.. Roshini Vaas Sri Lanka

  • ProdigyA on October 4, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    @neutral_Fan, agreed. Ishant bowls with a lot of heart and i would always support him. but the prob with him offlate is that he just does not seem to be learning. he keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again,which is actually very frustrating. i would suggest him to play some county cricket, get his basics and confidence rite and then he can get back to the national squad.

  • SRAM20 on October 4, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    Ishant should go to South Africa with the team for the test series there at the end of this year. We can see what he can do once the pitch helps him just a little bit. South African pitches will have far more help than this, and Ishant will be a handful on those wickets. Zaheer is in very good form now, and with Ishant bowling like this, India will finally get to see a potent fast bowling attack. Sreesanth will also love SA conditions. All three should be there along with Mithun as backup.

  • SaifQazi on October 4, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    Just play him in Test Matches, if you want to see him develop into an exceptional bowler, which he promised when he first burst into the scene. Shorter formats are killing his confidence and his ability to experiment with things. He is a bowler who needs time to get into his groove and Test Matches provide him with that. Shorter formats have become a bit of an entertainment, one-sided affairs with conditions heavily in favour of batsmen. Play him in Test Matches and see what big change will be there in him.

  • kitten on October 4, 2010, 16:38 GMT

    Though I agree Ishant bowled beautifully to get rid of the first three batsmen, the number of no balls and the subsequent runs accrued would I am sure be in excess of 30 runs at least(including the runs for no balls). This is unacceptable at international level, and all steps should be taken to ensure he improves in the near future. For the moment, he has ensured that his place is confirmed in the team for the next ten games! If he had bowled even half as well in the first innings as he did in the second, Australia might well have been all out for under 300! Remember Ponting was given a life on 13 or 14(due to Ishant`s no ball), went on to make over 70 runs. hAving said all this, I sincerely feel he should play in the second test as he now has a psychological effect on the Aussies.

  • ashishkhandelwal on October 4, 2010, 16:28 GMT

    This is ridiculous. If you are not getting wickets and are not bowling well I can understand but bowling this many no balls is just not acceptable. I think we should bench Sharma if he does not fix his no ball problem.

  • on October 4, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    If Ishant could curve his obsessive flirt with no-balls, he could turn into something. He's got the pace, accuracy and ability to become a world-class fast bowler.

  • indianzen on October 4, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Without any proof of good scores after injury, how can Gambhir be brought into the game? I would have preferred Pujara/Vijay and let Gambhir practice for a while...

  • inswing on October 4, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    Sharma is a good bowler that is in dire need of coaching and a sports psychologist. Frequent no balls are a technical issue that should not happen at the test level. The other part is psychology and confidence. This can be helped by a sports psychologist. And on an unrelated issue - bring in the UDRS! It is silly to say that "if you can prove that it is 100% foolproof, I am for it". So if you can go from 90% correct decisions to 99% correct, you don't want to do it because of that 1% that you never had in the first place? The only question should be whether UDRS is better than no UDRS, which clearly it is.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on October 4, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    He bowled much much better after picking up what can be said, 2 gifted wickets of Watson and Ponting. This shows that he clearly had a CONFIDENCE prob and that is why despite all the Ind supporters whining about Sreesanth, Munaf and he who only turns it on vs Bang and Zim-Ifran, I will always say stick with Sharma. He has attributes you don't often find in Ind bowlers and he is young. It is better to stick with him than recycle Ifran and Munaf or try to turn a volatile Sreesanth into a top class bowler. His spell to the 2 left handers on an unresponsive pitch was a joy to watch

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  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on October 4, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    He bowled much much better after picking up what can be said, 2 gifted wickets of Watson and Ponting. This shows that he clearly had a CONFIDENCE prob and that is why despite all the Ind supporters whining about Sreesanth, Munaf and he who only turns it on vs Bang and Zim-Ifran, I will always say stick with Sharma. He has attributes you don't often find in Ind bowlers and he is young. It is better to stick with him than recycle Ifran and Munaf or try to turn a volatile Sreesanth into a top class bowler. His spell to the 2 left handers on an unresponsive pitch was a joy to watch

  • inswing on October 4, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    Sharma is a good bowler that is in dire need of coaching and a sports psychologist. Frequent no balls are a technical issue that should not happen at the test level. The other part is psychology and confidence. This can be helped by a sports psychologist. And on an unrelated issue - bring in the UDRS! It is silly to say that "if you can prove that it is 100% foolproof, I am for it". So if you can go from 90% correct decisions to 99% correct, you don't want to do it because of that 1% that you never had in the first place? The only question should be whether UDRS is better than no UDRS, which clearly it is.

  • indianzen on October 4, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Without any proof of good scores after injury, how can Gambhir be brought into the game? I would have preferred Pujara/Vijay and let Gambhir practice for a while...

  • on October 4, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    If Ishant could curve his obsessive flirt with no-balls, he could turn into something. He's got the pace, accuracy and ability to become a world-class fast bowler.

  • ashishkhandelwal on October 4, 2010, 16:28 GMT

    This is ridiculous. If you are not getting wickets and are not bowling well I can understand but bowling this many no balls is just not acceptable. I think we should bench Sharma if he does not fix his no ball problem.

  • kitten on October 4, 2010, 16:38 GMT

    Though I agree Ishant bowled beautifully to get rid of the first three batsmen, the number of no balls and the subsequent runs accrued would I am sure be in excess of 30 runs at least(including the runs for no balls). This is unacceptable at international level, and all steps should be taken to ensure he improves in the near future. For the moment, he has ensured that his place is confirmed in the team for the next ten games! If he had bowled even half as well in the first innings as he did in the second, Australia might well have been all out for under 300! Remember Ponting was given a life on 13 or 14(due to Ishant`s no ball), went on to make over 70 runs. hAving said all this, I sincerely feel he should play in the second test as he now has a psychological effect on the Aussies.

  • SaifQazi on October 4, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    Just play him in Test Matches, if you want to see him develop into an exceptional bowler, which he promised when he first burst into the scene. Shorter formats are killing his confidence and his ability to experiment with things. He is a bowler who needs time to get into his groove and Test Matches provide him with that. Shorter formats have become a bit of an entertainment, one-sided affairs with conditions heavily in favour of batsmen. Play him in Test Matches and see what big change will be there in him.

  • SRAM20 on October 4, 2010, 18:48 GMT

    Ishant should go to South Africa with the team for the test series there at the end of this year. We can see what he can do once the pitch helps him just a little bit. South African pitches will have far more help than this, and Ishant will be a handful on those wickets. Zaheer is in very good form now, and with Ishant bowling like this, India will finally get to see a potent fast bowling attack. Sreesanth will also love SA conditions. All three should be there along with Mithun as backup.

  • ProdigyA on October 4, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    @neutral_Fan, agreed. Ishant bowls with a lot of heart and i would always support him. but the prob with him offlate is that he just does not seem to be learning. he keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again,which is actually very frustrating. i would suggest him to play some county cricket, get his basics and confidence rite and then he can get back to the national squad.

  • Roshini on October 4, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    Don't you worry Indians..You have what it takes to be true champions..My prediction is that if Zaheer Khan scores between 25-30 India wins the game hands down. Remember there's a proven master still at the crease.. Roshini Vaas Sri Lanka