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Spell-binding: Ishant Sharma’s best bowling efforts in Test cricket

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For well over a decade, pacer Ishant Sharma has been a mainstay in the Indian Test team.

The tall, lanky speedster broke into the team during India’s tour of Bangladesh in 2007 and has since established himself as one of India’s premier Test bowlers of all time.

Over the years, Sharma has delivered in clutch situations for India, especially overseas, and on the day when he celebrates his 32nd birthday, we take a look at five of his best bowling effort in the longest form of the game.

7-74 vs England (July 2014)

After a stellar batting effort in the second inning led by Murali Vijay’s gritty ton, India set a target of 318 for hosts England in the second Test of the five-match series at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London in 2014.

England were looking in good shape at 70-1, before Mohammad Shami got India the key breakthrough, after which, it was the Ishant Sharma show. The pacer took an aggressive approach, bowling short and on the body, forcing the English batsmen to play loose shots, picking them one after the other.

Sharma picked seven straight wickets while giving away just 74 runs, guiding India to a famous win over the hosts. It was India’s first win in an overseas Test for over three years and it took a special effort from their talisman with the ball to score that victory. Sharma was awarded the Man of the Match award for his splendid effort.

6-51 vs New Zealand (February 2014)

After losing the first Test during their trip to New Zealand in 2014, India were in dire need of a strong response in the second Test and it came courtesy of a magnificent spell from Sharma.

Bowling first, the Indian pacer got rid of Kiwi openers Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton and batsman Tom Latham in back-to-back-to-back overs, setting the innings up beautifully for the hosts. He then dismantled the middle order by getting rid of the dangerous Corey Anderson and BJ Watling, before dismissing Tim Southee to help India dismiss the hosts for just 192.

A triple century from Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum and centuries from Watling and James Neesham in the second inning denied India a victory, but Sharma’s spell was truly a spectacle to behold.

6-55 vs West Indies (June 2011)

After being bundled out for just 201 at Bridgetown in 2011 against the West Indies, India were in need of a strong response with the ball and Sharma provided just that. 

The pacer got India an early breakthrough, dismissing Adrian Barath in just his second over. The experienced Ramnaresh Sarwan was Sharma’s second scalp and night-watchman Devendra Bishoo was his third. Late in the inning, Sharma dismissed skipper Darren Sammy before cleaning up the final two wickets on two successive deliveries to give India a narrow lead. The match finished in a draw but Sharma was named the Man of the Match for a splendid effort with the ball.

6-134 vs New Zealand (February 2014)

In the first Test of the aforementioned India’s Tour to New Zealand, the hosts, batting first, were rocked early by Ishant Sharma as the speedster dismissed opener Rutherford and Ross Taylor leaving them toiling at 30-3.

However, the rest of the bowling lineup couldn’t replicate Sharma’s impact, as skipper McCullum forged a 221-run partnership with Kane Williamson followed by another 163-run stand with Corey Anderson, taking the game away from India. Sharma, however, continued to wage a lone battle, dismissing McCullum for 224, Anderson for 77, before cleaning up the New Zealand tale to finish with six wickets as the hosts piled 503. In reply, India scored just 202, leaving them a mountain to climb in the second inning.

Sharma picked up three wickets in the second inning and helped India dismiss New Zealand for just 105, but the target of 407 proved to be too steep as India lost the Test by 40 runs.  

5-22 vs Bangladesh (November 2019)

Sharma’s best performance at home came in November last year against Bangladesh at the Eden Garden.

Sharma and fellow pacer Umesh Yadav ran havoc through the Bangladesh batting line-up in day/night Test match, as the duo combined to pick up eight of the 10 wickets in the innings. Sharma dismissed opener Imrul Kayes before dismissing all-rounder Mahmudullah a few overs later. With the visitors reeling at 82-6, Sharma returned into the attack and picked up three wickets in a span of four overs to complete his five-fer, as India bundled out Bangladesh for just 106.

After India scored 347 in their first innings, Bangladesh needed 241 runs just to avoid an inning defeat, however, Sharma and Yadav continued from where they left off in the first inning, with the former adding four more to his tally and the latter picking a five-fer, as they combined to dismiss Bangladesh for just 195, helping India register a comfortable innings and 46 run victory over their neighbours.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar

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