When Zaheer Khan retired, the mantle of being the spearhead in test cricket automatically transferred to Ishant Sharma as he was the most experienced of the pacers. Ishant has now played a total of 70 test matches and has just 205 wickets to show for it, statistics that are far from impressive.
Ishant Sharma has never really stepped up and performed as the leader of the attack and his performances have been below par, not just in the West Indies but for a number of years. He is best known for his fabulous spell down under against Ricky Ponting, many moons ago. Ishant has had a couple of good performances over the years but other than that his bowling at test level is mediocre to say the least.
Mohammed Shami, coming back after nearly 18 months has taken 8 wickets in the two test matches against the West Indies at an average of 24.62 compared to Sharma’s 4 wickets at 45. His overall test average is at 37.05, not something that you want in your spearhead and strike bowler. The biggest worry is that after 70 test matches, Ishant Sharma is yet to figure out what line and length he should bowl on different pitches.
He wasted the new ball against the West Indies, not making the batsman play and giving them time to get their eye in. Captain Kohli who is a teammate of Ishant’s at Delhi has been more comfortable calling on Shami to get the breakthrough than Ishant. With his performances in the last two test matches, Ishant lacks the confidence to advise the likes of Shami and Yadav on how to find their line and length.
Ishant has never been able to run through battling line-ups or be the kind of bowler that can consistently get a breakthrough. Mitchell Starc, recently demonstrated how a spearhead needs to perform as he took 11 wickets on a dustbowl in Galle albeit in a losing cause. Ishant Sharma has found it hard to perform in all conditions be it in the West Indies, South Africa, England or even at home. To make matters worse, Ishant’s batting has also deteriorated over the last few years and it appears that he has progressed backwards in both bowling and batting.
The problem with Sharma is that he has never had an out-swinger and his stock delivery is the one that comes into the batsman. With his wayward lines and poor lengths, Ishant is not doing Kohli any favors and B Kumar is a better bet as he has proven in recent times that he has increased his pace and can definitely bat better than Sharma.