Is Captain Virat Kohli’s Faith In Test Spearhead Ishant Sharma Misplaced?

India secured a 2-0 test series victory over the West Indies after the 4th test match was a washout and Captain Virat Kohli was very pleased with the result. He heaped praises on R Ashwin and wicket-keeper W Saha for their performances with the bat lower down the order. Kohli also praised his bowlers and made reference to experienced fast bowler Ishant Sharma who started the series as India’s spearhead but finished the series with that mantle in question.

In a statement, Kohli said “Ishant has always been consistently hitting good areas for us. You will see, with him, not having too many wickets in three to four innings, but suddenly he’ll pick you a seven-for or six-for. That’s why we back a guy like Ishant, because, against top-quality sides, he can still keep hitting those areas and he puts the batsman under pressure.”Ishant Sharma

The fact that Ishant continues to hit good areas is highly questionable as he wasted the new ball on more than one occasion bowling wide of the off-stump and not making the batsman play. Ishant who opened the bowling during the first test match was bowling first change as the series came to a close. Kohli’s statement that Ishant will suddenly take a seven for is also mis-leading as Sharma has taken 7 wickets in an innings only once in his 72 test match career.

He sent down a total of 79 overs in the test series and took just 8 wickets while B Kumar managed to take 6 wickets in one just one test match. Ishant’s has had a total of 7 five wicket halls throughout his test career with his best year in 2014 when he took three five wicket halls – 2 in New Zealand and 1 in England. His last five wicket hall was in 2015 against the Sri Lankans.

While it is normal for both bowlers and batsman to go through rough patches in their career, a cricketer’s performance is supposed to improve as they gain more experience. This hasn’t been the case with Ishant. His strike rate is over 66 and his bowling average is close to 37 – not impressive for someone who was given the responsibility of being the spearhead of the Indian attack after Zaheer Khan retired.

Ishant plays for Delhi and so does captain Kohli. While it is nice to see a captain expressing faith in a player, sometimes that faith can be misplaced faith. If India is to be number one in the ICC test rankings, they need someone who performs consistently well – not someone who has a flash of brilliance once in every three years.