September 02, 1988, Delhi
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast medium
With a physique and attitude that is reminiscent of a young Javagal Srinath, Ishant Sharma shot into prominence during the 2007-08 Test series in Australia. Standing at 6'4", his rhythmic, high-arm action allowed him to bowl at around 140 kph. For one who started serious cricket at 14, his rise was rapid and he made his Ranji Trophy debut at 18. An injury to Munaf Patel provided him an opening during India's tour of Bangladesh in May 2007 but it was in Australia where he caught the attention, prompting Steve Waugh to call him the next best thing in Indian cricket. He showed he could move the ball both ways and his probing spell in the second innings in Perth, where he set-up Ricky Ponting, is the stuff of folklore. He continued to impress in the one-day series, clocking more than 150kph once, and ended as India's highest wicket-taker in the triumphant campaign.
The glory days continued through his debut season, with a notable performance against South Africa, followed by 15 wickets in four Tests in the succesful home series against Australia in 2008, and a couple of strong shows in Sri Lanka in ODIs. By now Ishant was clearly Zaheer Khan's deputy in the Indian seam arsenal, but things have gone seriously wrong since. Some have blamed it on his being over-bowled, particularly on flat tracks in the IPL, while others point to a malaise that has afflicted all of India's new crop of fast bowlers. The fact remains that Ishant lost the most crucial aspect of his bowling - his pace. Without it, his natural short-of-a-good-length that had tormented batsmen of Ponting's calibre a season earlier lost its venom. Eventually the loss of pace led to a loss of self-confidence. The Indian selectors decided to be careful and began shielding him from the shorter formats of the game in 2009 in the hope that he would rediscover his zip. His struggle continued but given India's limited seam-bowling resources at the time, Ishant was persisted with, even after an ankle surgery in 2012 that put him out of action for months. When he completed 50 Tests in early 2013 he had among the worst averages for bowlers with 50 Test caps to their name.
Since then Ishant has somewhat revived his Test career. He was impressive on the tour of New Zealand, being the top wicket-taker in Tests with 15 wickets that included two five-wicket hauls. On his next overseas assignment, in England, Ishant was the hero of India's famous win at Lord's when he bounced out the England batsmen with his spell of 7 for 74, helping India to a 1-0 lead in the Test series. It was perhaps one of his best performances for India in whites.
He soon suffered a leg injury and was ruled out for the following two Tests. He did return for the fifth Test but his 4 for 96 was only part of an embarrassing innings defeat for India. He then went back to Australia, the country that had kick-started his career, but he could only manage mediocre performances in the three Tests he was a part of. His landing foot was proving to be a constant irritant to his fitness and the fast bowler picked up another injury, this time to his knee and was ruled out of the ODI tri-series that followed. Ishant failed to recover in time for the World Cup and was replaced by Mohit Sharma.
Batting & Fielding