Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day

Fiery Ishant interrupts normal service

The working over Ishant Sharma gave the Sri Lankan batsmen in the first session might not mean much in terms of a result but it was riveting to watch

Sidharth Monga in Galle

July 20, 2010

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Ishant Sharma grabbed three wickets in the morning session, 1st Test, Galle, 3rd day, July 20, 2010
For one spell in the morning session, Ishant Sharma was back to his menacing best © AFP
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Test cricket allows for indulgences, a spell of play practically unrelated to the state of the match and the final outcome. The working over Ishant Sharma gave to the Sri Lankan batsmen in eight testing overs in the first session, both with old ball and new, might not mean much in terms of the result. This match, with 112 overs lost already and with India deflated in the middle session again, should still play out to one of the two conclusions that looked probable before the start of the day - a draw or a Sri Lankan win. During that session, though, all that didn't matter.

It was an individual contest that found a place despite not changing the fate of the team contest. A master batsman, Mahela Jayawardene, against a struggling fast bowler who suddenly found the right lengths and much-needed assistance from the pitch, which had been under covers for a long time. An ever-improving young allrounder, Angelo Mathews, against the same bowler, taking risks, counterattacking, before eventually falling to him.

The session was nothing like what had been happening before, and was nothing like what happened after. The ball moved around. Ishant bowled a length that couldn't be driven, nor could it be cut. He got movement both ways, getting some balls to jag in sharply and others to leave the batsmen slightly, not just hold its line.

For a change he beat the bat regularly; he got edges even more regularly. His follow-through got longer and he ended up closer to the batsmen - he had the confidence to do that. Four slips came in. Did his hair bounce more too?

Ishant started the day with the old ball, removing centurion Tharanga Paranavitana with his second delivery. Then he hit Thilan Samaraweera on the helmet first ball, and squared him up twice in that over. That he had given away 79 runs in the 14 overs before that hardly mattered.

Soon he came back with the new ball and started the interrogation. The second ball jumped at Jayawardene, the third left him. The fourth Jayawardene left alone, but it nipped back sharply, passing over the stumps. It is possible that Jayawardene left it on length, it is equally possible he expected it to go the other way. The fifth was fuller, making him play, cutting him in two. Jayawardene has scored centuries in Sri Lanka with less trouble than he went through in one over. Ishant's spell to Ricky Ponting obviously came to mind. Jayawardene, on his part, refused to commit on the front foot and push at deliveries. He stayed back and inside the line.

In his second over with the new ball, Ishant faced Mathews. First ball came in, second left him, third went straight, fourth seamed away again, taking the edge, between the slips and gully. The next ball was fuller, moving in, taking a thick edge for one. He finished the over, squaring up Jayawardene, getting a thick edge, past the slips again.

Ishant could have got a wicket with perhaps every delivery of those two overs, but his domination of the batsmen, however brief it might have been, was made more obvious by those uncertain plays and misses, the edges flying wide of the slips. In the third over with the new ball, Ishant beat Jayawardene with the away-going delivery again, his team-mates all appealed. Ishant just kept running through past the wicket without much of a reaction. He knew he hadn't got his man; he knew he would get him soon. The next ball seamed in sharply, the batsman was late with the flick, and Jayawardene had been had.

Mathews, the youngster, didn't care about relying too much on technique. He saw mid-off and mid-on were too close to him, and cleared them twice in one over. Every other loose ball in that spell, from either end, he punished. Ishant, though, followed it up with one shortish delivery outside off, seaming away again, taking the edge, capping off the spell with a wicket with his last ball before lunch.

There is every possibility that the spell might not amount to anything in the series, but it was the most exciting spell of play in the match before Muttiah Muralitharan came onto bowl in the evening and took out Sachin Tendulkar.

Perhaps because it was a fast bowler dominating in a land where fast bowlers have no business dominating. Perhaps because he was doing it against one of the best batsmen in the world. Perhaps because the said fast bowler had been through an elongated rough patch after a promising start to his career. Perhaps because he was doing it for a side that had looked inept with the ball, now raising hopes of a more competitive series. Perhaps because somewhere deep inside you were resigned to a draw, and here was some drama despite that.

Whatever it was, it was short-lived, and post lunch, the Sri Lankan batsmen - that is the Sri Lankan bowlers who were batting - started dominating again. Normal service had well and truly resumed.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by MasterClass on (July 22, 2010, 7:31 GMT)

@McGorium: If you mean big deal that McGrath was never classified a fast bowler, but was still a lethal wicket taking force I couldn't agree more. In fact my point exactly! If Ishant can be 1/2 of McGrath I would be pleased to heaven!

Posted by MasterClass on (July 22, 2010, 7:13 GMT)

@McGorium: My math is fine, but a lesson in bio-mechanics is in order. OK maybe I stretched it a bit to emphasize my point. But your simple 1st grade math of 6'4"- 6'2" = 2" diff don't add up either! Ishant may be only 2" taller than MJ but he has a wing-span at least 6"-8" bigger due to his longer arms. So add 2" to 4" (1/2 of 8") you get a diff of 6" just standing. Now the bio-mechanics come in. MJ has a side arm action. He doesn't rise to full stature but crouches when he slings the ball. Ishant is at full stature and his arm is next to his ear in classical fashion. The combined difference is about 12". Adding it up you get something like 18". So as conceded maybe I did stretch it a bit for emphasis, but I'm still more accurate my friend. The others mentioned are similar more or less to MJ. BTW I've plenty of respect for Stein but not for MJ or Tait. I didn't mention Bolli because I think he's a 100 times better bowler than MJ who's mostly a workhorse without any real skill.

Posted by SachinIsAGoner on (July 21, 2010, 8:04 GMT)

This guy Assasinator finally settled for an Indian Draw. An "ordinary" team like Sri Lanka imposing FOLLOW ON on India (No.1, whattttt?). Poor Batting, Poor Bowling, Poor Fielding but still World No. 1. Any unbiased thoughts or "expert" analysis Mr.Assasinator?

Posted by Vivek.Bhandari on (July 21, 2010, 5:46 GMT)

I was following Cricinfo's commentary during the morning session. And I could feel what and how well the pacers were bowling. I asked my brother when I reached home about the pre-lunch session, and the reaction that he gave said it all...think Ishant of Perth fame might be back after this series...:))

Posted by 158notout on (July 21, 2010, 5:31 GMT)

Please would everyone stop highlighting their ignorance. This is not a 'bulletin' or 'report' which would of course mention all the players in the match and their contributions. This is an 'article' or 'analysis' and as such is not forced to cover the game but rather the subject matter that Sidharth has chosen - which here is a glimpse of what Ishant has promised but so far failed to deliver. The article is about Ishant and a mesmerising spell, not about his figures or who bowled better. Next time before you all jump in with accusations to the writer, think about the composition of the piece first.

Posted by vidhatad on (July 21, 2010, 5:25 GMT)

I definitely agree that Mithin should have been credited with an article, than Ishant. However, this article is more about getting a glimpse of the fast bowler we always expected Ishant to be - after he raised our hope with his spells during the Australia tour. Nowhere is the author saying that Ishant was better than Mithun during the Lankan first innings. He's just talked about the one spell during which he saw an Ishant of the Aussie fame. Let's not throw our opinions on the author.

Posted by 3214414421 on (July 21, 2010, 5:17 GMT)

I am a Pakistani and I saw this young lads interview on Espn Star sports way back in 2006 when he was not in the international line up. i was instantly impressed by his height and his bowling action and was for a change excited to see him making debut for india as many pakistani supporters dont look forward for india finding the new talent and vice versa... I was impressed with his performance in Australia but soon when he played first IPL I declared him as a non subcontinental bowler... and thats a fact Ishant Sharma will bowl superbly again in Australia whenver they tour them and will also bowl good in England but he is not a subcontinental bowler.. Thats the reason y he is struggling he relys too much on pitch unlike Mohammed aamer who tries to generate pace to pick wickets.. his ability of swinging the ball is also limited and on subcontinental pitches you need a bowler who has an art of swinging the new and old ball both ways... Ishanth is overated as Pathan was...

Posted by satotheend on (July 21, 2010, 3:25 GMT)

Well here we go yet again! Ishant has one good spell and BANG! he is a brilliant bowler again... India is putting too much hope in this guy. He has a terrible average and was outbowled by a debutant (which I cannot understand is not being mentioned). And I really don't care whether he delivers it from 12 feet he is still impatient, too slow and lacks consistency... I like Mithun... He has something... Just wish to see him bowling with Zaheer who builds pressure and does'nt allow two tailenders to smash 50's. And @thenkabail... I saw glimpses of the early Jayasuiya too. Herath is a very decent batsman and a very good spinner. He can become a very handy allrounder in years to come... Les see...

Posted by McGorium on (July 21, 2010, 3:12 GMT)

@Masterclass: 2 feet higher? Where did you learn math, man? Johnson is 6'2. That's 2 inches shorter than Ishant. Steyn and Akhtar are roughly 5'11. 5 inches shorter. How does a difference of 5 inches increase the release point of the ball by 24 inches? It's less than a foot higher wrt Akhtar or Steyn; just stand next to someone a few inches taller than you and compare for yourself. Ishant averaged in the low 140s in the Australia tour, in which he made his debut. That's sufficiently quick to be classified as a fast bowler. He has lost a bit of pace, but these things don't get downgraded quickly enough. Alan Donald and Waqar Younis were classified as RF towards the end of their careers, when both of them were bowling at the same pace as McGrath (or slower in the case of Younis), who was RFM. Also, for some reason, I've noticed bowlers gain 5mph in Australia. Not sure why... Also, McGrath made a living doing what you described, but better. Big deal. McGrath was never classified as RF.

Posted by bearebel on (July 21, 2010, 2:41 GMT)

Very well said by D.S.A, just one spell does not make him a good bowler. India need some real good bowlers who can be consistent like kapil dev. Ishant sharma used to bowl 140kph when he started but now he cannot reach the 135kph mark.

Posted by Chetzz on (July 21, 2010, 1:14 GMT)

Come on Mr. Siddahrth Monga........... It was not Ishant, but Mithun who did the early damage. give credit to the young lad who has taken 4 wickets on debut. Remember, even after a catch was dropped of his bowling, he came back and picked up the same wicket 2 balls later. Stop, going gaga over ishant and give a fair credit to Mithun.

Posted by Clyde on (July 21, 2010, 1:10 GMT)

Now, now, it is just an artricle, sleight of hand. You can see from the way it is composed. A theme is thought of and kept to. Another article describing the same period could have been on the theme of conditions - the weather, the pitch. A good article has a theme, to be sure, but one that has been thought of - and is to be proved - by no other person, writer or spectator. Watching Cricinfo also is a spectator sport, and the players are equally likely, for example, to be hammered or get themselves out.

Posted by MasterClass on (July 21, 2010, 1:00 GMT)

This is in response to all those complaining about Ishant being tagged a fast bowler. True, he may bowl at 135 kph (although he's quite capable of 140+). What really matters is not how fast he bowls, but how fast he's perceived by the batsmen. What do I mean? Ishant is 6'4". His height and arm length allows him to release the ball a good 2 ft higher than the other "skidding type" fast bowlers (Stein, Johnson, Tait and even Akhtar). He snaps his wrist when releasing the ball adding an extra zip. The ball seam wobbles, so there is no lateral movement in the air (i.e. swing) but once it hits the pitch it jags back in or moves away unpredictably from a unplayable length depending on how the seam hits the pitch. The batsmen at the other end perceives a ball coming at ~130 kph and is not prepared to react when it rears up and cuts him in two or nearly grabs the edge. He now reliazes that his wicket is only one minor mistake away, and is in DOUBT and FEAR. Now who's the REAL fast bowler??

Posted by thenkabail on (July 20, 2010, 23:35 GMT)

This is a rediculous article. It is good to highlight what Ishat Sharma. But to ignore a debutant fast bowler like Mithun who took 4 wickets and gave less runs is totally rediculous. Mithus deserves encouragement. Mark my words that he more than anyone will spearhead Indian bowling soon. The only danger he has is writers like Monga and brainless selectors. Mithun, Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Jaidev Undkat are some of India's future stars. They are ready for all forms of cricket- only if selectors have vision. Ishat Sharma has potential. But if you have talent you don't fall off after a year or two. True talent thrives over years. It is certainly heartening to watch Ishat bowl so well. But, consistency matters. Let us see whether he has it!. But, Mithun must be a permanent feature of Indian team- indeed opening the bowling. In 1-2 years he will be one of the most feared bowlers.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 21:38 GMT)

it was just a matter of time before he found himself...test cricket is the real cricket...watching it, is dope ! playing is even better

Posted by cheeseburgers on (July 20, 2010, 20:00 GMT)

That is the beauty of Test Cricket..one day you have bad day in the office and the other day you inspire .. having Patience does helps :)

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 18:24 GMT)

Hi Guys, Ishant bowled well in patches, and Mithun was consistent throughout.But what people failed to notice was that there is another Sanath Jayasurya in the making, its none other than Rangana Herath, watch him bat at number 8 was like watching the Jayasurya of yesteryears.The bowlers were not the ones who are at fault neither the weather is to b blamed,it is another legend in the making. If he is ready by the time Jayasurya calls it a day think how devastating it could be.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 18:16 GMT)

Please bring Irfan back to the team...

Posted by ASInjuns on (July 20, 2010, 18:13 GMT)

We've all been looking for Irfan who could swing the ball. Unfortunately that Irfan has been lost to Bollywood/IPL, just like many promising youngsters in year's past and now. Couldn't handle fortune/fame and the hard work involved to become a fast bowler.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 17:53 GMT)

Why is Ishant Sharma tagged as right arm fast when he barely qualifies as a medium pacer? Surely the standards to qualify as an out and out fast bowler haven't been downgraded to have a lower cutoff of 78mph.

Posted by JustIPL on (July 20, 2010, 17:28 GMT)

However, Ishant fired briefly but it was largely due to weather and same is true for Mithun who was not impressive either despite taking wickets. It was surprising to forget beating by the tailenders and 105 runs scored against these fast bowlers while trying to take advantage of weather in the pre lunch session.

It is just the weather and not Ishant or Mithun.

Posted by D.S.A on (July 20, 2010, 17:21 GMT)

Is the point of this article just to appease the Ishant fans that still think he is India's great hope in terms of representing India as a fast bowler? As an Indian, be fair and ask yourself this, which Indian fast bowler has been consistently bowling well? Apart from Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra in the limited overs matches, there aren't any. Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Praveen "swing the ball both ways yet still so ineffective in general" Kumar, among other names who have been tested are just ridiculous.

A spell of bowling by Ishant is meaningless when the damage was already done. His figures in the game speak for themselves with regards to how well he bowled. I partly agree with vaidyar that Mithun is being pushed aside for Ishant. However, in fairness, the bowlers have disappointed India as expected, and Cricinfo should write more articles based on that, rather than this irrelevant article, which has no bearing on this Test match.

Posted by Aussasinator on (July 20, 2010, 17:10 GMT)

India will draw this match.

Posted by AsherCA on (July 20, 2010, 16:34 GMT)

Cricinfo, according to your so-called cricket experts, the Indian batting lineup is very strong & bowling is India's weak link. We have seen a sarcastic article against the Indian bowlers. NOW - please write about the 100's of runs scored by Dravid, Sachin etc. who just have to say they want to play in order to be in the 1st 11. Just as bowlers who represent India are required to get wickets, batsmen who represent should be required to get runs, or at least spend a substantial amount of time at the crease. Please show the same ruthlessness in your writing that you have shown while talking about India's bowlers - remember the team management has reduced 1 bowler to bring in an extra batsman and the batsmen are abusing this support by not applying themselves - Dravid was RUN OUT in a test match.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 16:32 GMT)

Nice Article....Nice Bowling by Ishant after long time. I think Venketesh Prashad's effect is slowly fading away as Ishant bowled a consistent and better line. Mithun was brilliant as well.

Posted by Molu14 on (July 20, 2010, 16:22 GMT)

Good article!!! Ishant's spell was extremely entertaining and fulfilling to watch, as every ball bowled was a "jaffa". I normally skip the Sri Lankan inning, as watching the hapless Indian bowling department getting trashed around b the opposition gives me no joy, but I was glued to the T.V all throughout the first session. (Luckily for me, I went to sleep at lunch, for the bowling attack did indeed get trashed around after that) And vaidyar, I fully agree with you. Mithun did get 4 wickets, and three of them were batsmen. I was also surprised to see that Cricinfo has not even mentioned him even once!

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 16:15 GMT)

bring irfan pathan back, as india needs him

Posted by S.N.Singh on (July 20, 2010, 16:08 GMT)

SHARMA BOWLED WELL BUT WITH NO LUCK. THROUGHOUT THE INNSINGS HE WAS FINDING THE EDGES OF THE BAT AND NONE WENT TO A FIELDSMAN. DHONI SHOULD LOOK AT THE SLIP AND GULLY FOR THE OUTSWINGER TO TAKE THE EDGE AND WHERE THE BALL IS GOING. ADJUSTMENT MUST BE MADE WHERE THE BALL GOES AFTER THE EDGES. THE FIRST AND SECOND OVERS OFF SHARMA 4 FOURS WAS GIVEN AWAY. ALL FROM EDGES OF THE BAT TO FIND THE BOUNDARY. IF YOU WILL HAVE AN ARTHODOX FIELD, THERE SHOULD BE A THIRDMAN. OR SPREAD OUT THE SLIP AND GULLY AREA WITH A THIRMAN. THIS WILL ENCOURAGE THE FAST BOWLERS. TEH PACEMEN BOWLED WELL. THE SPINNERS DID NOT HELP ON A TURNING WICKET. S.N.SINGH USA

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 15:58 GMT)

i agree with vaidyar!!ishant bowled a gud spell today n i knew that he would right frm d strt.but mithun deserved spl praise,he deserved an article for himself,with his decent pace he troubled n tuk wickets right frm day one.he looked the most settled of all bowlers,at a tym whn everyone was crying hoarse over lack of gud fast bowlig options in India,mithun n ishant showed that there is hope.bt iam dissapointed cricinfo missing out on mithun.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 15:56 GMT)

Why is ishanth sharma considered right arm fast ? I fail to see how you can put him in the same category as shaun tait or shoaib akhtar. Even jacques kallis bowls faster than him. He is a fast medium seamer, and i do say, his leg cutter is great to watch.

Posted by ajithlalm on (July 20, 2010, 15:50 GMT)

I think most of the fast bowlers are getting injured because they are playing lots of cricket now a days. It is not possible to reduce the number of games each country, but it is possible to rotate the players so that more good players get opportunities to international level as well as the bench strength also increases. I think players should be rotated especially fast bowlers so as to prevent injury and also if players are rotated wisely there will be enough bench players to fit into the shoes of injured player. Also players who are not in form also should be asked to play domestic cricket or should not be picked. I think after rotation of Ishant Sharma I think he most probably will be better in this series and he will also be not tired or burned out or injured and be feeling fresh.

Posted by unnikm on (July 20, 2010, 15:50 GMT)

Sidarth might be a Ishant fan, but if u can't wind up tailenders with all sorts of pitch help, oooh how fast they scored man, what sort of bowling is this? In that Mithun on debuet done a great job

Posted by Fahad.net on (July 20, 2010, 15:48 GMT)

all talk, no results. Indian Pace bowlers need to go a long way far before they can be compared to other world class fast bowlers. Every time India is in a trouble their batsmen rescue them.

Posted by   on (July 20, 2010, 15:40 GMT)

We want Irfan Pathan please ... Please bring him back. We want Irfan who can swing the ball both the ways......

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (July 20, 2010, 15:40 GMT)

Mithun deserves a mention. It has always been Ishant who has begged the fame. The fact is that even if Mithun wasn't so brilliant as Ishant in that spell, he was more consistent throughout. A return of 4 wickets on the Sri Lankan pitches for a debutant is good news.

Posted by Kirth on (July 20, 2010, 14:55 GMT)

It was a treat for the eyes, have been waiting for a Indian bowler to do that for a match/innings. Though for a brief period, thank you Ishant and wish you all the best.

Posted by Nataraj_Krishnaswamy on (July 20, 2010, 14:53 GMT)

It was a good spell but has to be consistent all through. He or any other bowler could not dislodge the tailenders will probably cost us the match. That is the difference between a good bowler and a great bowler performing even when the conditions are not in your favour.

Posted by jayantj on (July 20, 2010, 14:52 GMT)

Everybody was talking about India's lack of fast bowling options and shallowness in that department. It was the spinners that let India down.

Posted by kkrish555 on (July 20, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

Excellent article. Beautiful description. Looks like India would have benifited more if they had third seamer may be Zaheer or Sree. Any way good spell Ishant.

Posted by SnowSnake on (July 20, 2010, 14:22 GMT)

I think Indian fast bowlers should be nurtured well. Indian fast bowling appears to have talent, but Indian pitches are designed to crush it. Ishant had bowled well in Australia and appears to do well on Day 3 session in Sri Lanka. Given that spin is no longer India's best weapon against batsman, it is about time for India to go the fast bowling way and design at least some pitches that boosts fast bowler's confidence.

Posted by vaidyar on (July 20, 2010, 14:15 GMT)

I don't understand this. Mithun took 4 wkts on his debut, and mostly top-order wkts. And he doesn't even merit a mention in the bulletin either. His name appears just once in the whole article. What's going on cricinfo?

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