From a lanky teenage tearaway to a steady but unlucky bowler and finally to one of the most potent wicket-taking pacers in the game, Ishant Sharma has come a long way in a Test journey dating back to the second Test of India‘s tour of Bangladesh in 2007.
Still only 32, Ishant Sharma has already had his fair share of ups and downs in a 14-year-Test career, where he has been a key part of many a famous Indian Test win on foreign shores.
As he is set to become only the second Indian pacer to play 100 Tests, @ImIshant reveals what his emotions were before his #TeamIndia debut and before he plays his 100th Test. 👍👌 @Paytm #INDvENG pic.twitter.com/YZgFDI9R4W
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 22, 2021
On the eve of his 100th Test – a feat so exceptional that no other Indian fast bowler except the legendary Kapil Dev has achieved, let us look back at five of the most memorable spells bowled by Ishant Sharma in Test cricket:
Ishant Sharma’s best-ever figures in a Test innings came at the ‘Mecca of Cricket’, a spell that will go down as one of the best by an Indian fast bowler in the longest format of the game.
After setting England a fourth-innings target of 319 runs, India struggled to dislodge the duo of Moeen Ali and Joe Root. The pair kept thwarting MS Dhoni’s men and were looking in control of proceedings after bringing up a hundred-run partnership to take England to 173/4 in 75 overs.
📅 #OnThisDay in 2014…
— Lord’s Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) July 21, 2018
That is when Dhoni decided to call upon his tireless workhorse to deliver a barrage of short balls in an attempt to settle them. Enter Ishant Sharma.
The lanky fast bowler answered the call of his skipper and wreaked carnage. Moeen Ali’s awkward fend to short-leg was followed by fatal mistimed pulls of Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and Joe Root – all falling to accurate short balls in quick succession.
Ishant Sharma had already got the better of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell early in the innings. When Stuart Broad edged one to Dhoni, Ishant Sharma celebrated a 7-for, and India soon wrapped up a famous win.
England were at the receiving end of Ishant Sharma’s brilliance once again, as the fast bowler ran through their middle-order to give India a great chance of winning the Test.
Building on a 3-wicket haul by Ravichandran Ashwin, who sent the English top-order packing, Ishant Sharma got the ball to seam and swing alarmingly. Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad had no answer to Ishant Sharma’s immaculate bowling as the hosts folded up for a meagre 180.
Ishant Sharma completes a superb five-wicket haul before Umesh Yadav dismisses Sam Curran to end the England innings. Tremendous fight shown by the 20-year-old, 63 off 65 balls.
— ICC (@ICC) August 3, 2018
Unfortunately, the bowler’s heroic efforts went in vain, as Indian batsmen made a meal of a modest194-run target, falling short by 31 runs.
Taking his second 6-wicket haul of the series, Ishant Sharma had New Zealand dancing to his tunes on the first day of the Test itself.
With conditions in his favour, Ishant Sharma’s immaculate line and length helped India dismiss New Zealand for just 192 runs in the first innings. The right-armer’s superb bowling was once again key in India finding themselves in a winning position on foreign shores.
Tea in Wellington!
Ishant Sharma made a couple of breakthroughs, but New Zealand ate into the deficit and are looking good for a sizeable first-innings lead!
— ICC (@ICC) February 22, 2020
Unfortunately, Brendon McCullum ruined Ishant Sharma’s party, as he led a rescue act of unimaginable proportions by smashing a triple century in the second innings and save the match.
On the first day of India’s first-ever Day-night Test, Ishant Sharma led the pace attack brilliantly to become the first Indian bowler to pick up a 5-wicket haul with the pink ball.
First Test in India – 5-wkt haul
First D/N Test in India – 5-wkt haul
No 5-wicket hauls in 30 home Tests between these two. #IndvBan
— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) November 22, 2019
His exploits did not end there, as Ishant Sharma came back in the second innings to pick up four more scalps, ensuring India marked the landmark match with a dominating win.
So much has been written about that famous day at the WACA: India’s 19-year-old pace prodigy made the mighty Ricky Ponting look like an ordinary mortal.
Even though Ishant Sharma only ended up with a solitary wicket, that of the Australian legend, this spell in the 2008 Perth Test will always remain as one of the most famous ones bowled by the tall bowler in the longest format of the game.
On the eve of his 100th Test match, wind it back to the WACA in 2008 when a 19-year-old Ishant Sharma produced *that* spell to the great Ricky Pontinghttps://t.co/1vusG0daS9
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 23, 2021
Moving the ball both ways off an unwavering good length, the then-teenaged Ishant Sharma had Ponting hopping and poking for his life on the 4th day of the Test.
For seven overs, Ishant Sharma kept bowling one unplayable delivery after the other, while a fortunate Ponting kept missing them all. After a mid-field conference with Virender Sehwag, skipper Anil Kumble asked the teenager ‘Ek aur karega?’ (Will you bowl one moreover?), and Ishant Sharma promptly replied, ‘haan karunga’ (Yes, I will).
What happened next is the stuff of legends. Ponting pushed at the first delivery of Ishant Sharma’s eighth over, only to edge it to the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at first slip. The wicket inspired India to their first-ever Test win at Perth, as a tall young bowling superstar announced his arrival.