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Decoding Ishant Sharma: Slow starter to match-winner!

By Rajneesh Gupta
Last updated on: September 02, 2015 16:42 IST
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2014 was Ishant Sharma's best year in terms of performance. He had 38 wickets in eight Tests, including the match-winning 7 for 74 against England at Lord’s.

Rajneesh Gupta decodes the pacer's career, which after an indifferent start seems to be living up to the initial promise.

Ishant Sharma

Handed the responsibility of leading India’s bowling attack, Ishant Sharma is living up to expectations.

The Delhi pacer played a major role in the 2-1 Test series triumph in Sri Lanka, the first for India in the island nation after a long wait of 22 years.

Ishant, who took 13 wickets in the series, also became the eighth Indian bowler to scale the 200-wicket mark in Test cricket.

After Zaheer Khan's exit from the team, the onus was on Ishant to guide the next crop of Indian fast bowlers. Going by his performances in the last 12 months he is doing a pretty good job.

Rajneesh Gupta decodes the pacer's career, which after an indifferent start, seems to be living up to the initial promise.

Indian bowlers with 200-wickets in Tests:

 

Mts

Wkts

Avg

SR

5WI

10WM

Anil Kumble

132

619

29.65

65.99

35

8

Kapil Dev

131

434

29.64

63.92

23

2

Harbhajan Singh

103

417

32.46

68.54

25

5

Zaheer Khan

92

311

32.94

60.40

11

1

Bishan Singh Bedi

67

266

28.71

80.32

14

1

Bhagwat Chandrasekhar

58

242

29.74

65.96

16

2

Javagal Srinath

67

236

30.49

64.00

10

1

Ishant Sharma

65

200

36.51

65.24

7

1

Among the Indian bowlers to take 200 wickets, Ishant is the slowest, having attained the landmark in 65 Tests.

Harbhajan Singh is the fastest Indian to the 200 wickets mark, having done it in 46 matches, while his former spin colleague Anil Kumble did it in 47.

Tests taken by Indian bowlers to reach 200 wickets:

Bowler

Mts

Harbhajan Singh

46

Anil Kumble

47

B Chandrasekhar

48

Kapil Dev

50

Bishan Singh Bedi

51

Javagal Srinath

54

Zaheer Khan

63

Ishant Sharma

65

If you check out Ishant’s career progress in terms of 50-wicket brackets, it is clear that the fast bowler has hit a purple patch lately.

He took 33 Tests to get his first 100 wickets but slowed down considerably thereafter, taking as many as 21 Tests to get another 50.

His showing improved rapidly since then as the next 50 scalps came from only 11 Tests.

Ishant’s progress to 200 wickets:

1st 50 wickets

17 Tests

Next 50 wickets

16 Tests

Next 50 wickets

21 Tests

Last 50 wickets

11 Tests

Ishant has the most number of wickets (45) against Australia, the team against whom he played the most number of Tests (19) till date.

His best average is against New Zealand, against whom he has taken 30 wickets in six matches, while against South Africa he claimed just 20 wickets in eight Tests.

Performance against each country:

Country

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

RPO

5WI

10WM

v Australia

19

45

4-77

44.86

80.96

3.32

0

0

v England

11

35

7-74

38.31

72.00

3.19

1

0

v New Zealand

6

30

6-51

25.63

44.93

3.42

2

0

v Sri Lanka

10

28

5-54

38.64

62.89

3.68

1

0

v West Indies

6

27

6-55

26.22

51.74

3.04

2

1

v South Africa

8

20

4-79

47.95

82.85

3.47

0

0

v Bangladesh

4

10

4-66

28.40

48.60

3.50

0

0

v Pakistan

1

5

5-118

28.00

47.00

3.57

1

0

TOTAL

65

200

7-74

36.51

65.24

3.35

7

1

Like is the case with all players, Ishant also enjoys bowling in the comforts of home pitches in India, taking 62 wickets in 22 Tests.

However, his best record is in the West Indies -- 22 wickets from three matches, at an average of 16.

Performance in each country:

 

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

RPO

5WI

10WM

in India

22

62

5-118

33.46

66.40

3.02

1

0

in Sri Lanka

9

26

5-54

36.42

60.12

3.63

1

0

in England

7

25

7-74

40.84

69.24

3.53

1

0

in New Zealand

5

23

6-51

30.91

52.26

3.54

2

0

in West Indies

3

22

6-55

16.86

33.77

2.99

2

1

in Australia

10

20

3-38

62.15

105.45

3.53

0

0

in South Africa

5

12

4-79

54.16

91.33

3.55

0

0

in Bangladesh

4

10

4-66

28.40

48.60

3.50

0

0

Home

22

62

5-118

33.46

66.40

3.02

1

0

Away

43

138

7-74

37.87

64.71

3.51

6

1

Since his debut in 2007, Ishant was always earmarked as a special talent but consistency was never his forte. In the first few years he enjoyed a roller-coaster ride and dropped from the squad a few times, but seems to have hit top gear in the last couple of years.

2014 was his best year in terms of performance as he picked up 38 wickets in eight Tests, including the match-winning spell of 7 for 74 against England at Lord’s.

In terms of wicket-taking, 2011 was the most profitable year, with 43 wickets coming from 12 Tests, though with a strike rate in the high 60s.

Performance in each calendar year:

Year

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

RPO

5WI

10WM

2007

2

6

5-118

31.50

52.17

3.62

1

0

2008

13

38

4-77

31.60

61.97

3.05

0

0

2009

4

10

4-73

46.90

76.40

3.68

0

0

2010

11

33

4-43

37.57

58.85

3.83

0

0

2011

12

43

6-55

36.69

68.07

3.23

2

1

2012

5

7

3-49

75.57

138.00

3.28

0

0

2013

6

12

4-79

48.16

93.50

3.09

0

0

2014

8

38

7-74

31.36

54.63

3.44

3

0

2015

4

13

5-54

25.07

44.77

3.36

1

0

 The breakdown of his career in two parts -- before 2013 and after – reveals the entire story.

Before 2013, his strike rate was 69.72 for 149 wickets in 53 Tests, but since then he improved drastically, claiming 51 wickets in 12 matches at a strike rate of 52.

 

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

RPO

5WI

10WM

upto 2013

53

149

6-55

38.81

69.72

3.34

3

1

since 2014

12

51

7-74

29.76

52.11

3.44

4

0

If you break it down further, in span of 10 Tests each, you will again notice the dramatic rise in his performance in the last 15 Tests.

The worst period was easily between 41 to 50 when he took just 14 wickets in 10 Tests, with a strike rate of 136.

Performance in each span of 10 Tests

Match #

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

R/6bO

5WI

10WM

 1 - 10

10

30

 5-118

31.67

58.23

3.26

1

0

 11 - 20

10

29

 4-73

34.62

63.90

3.25

0

0

 21 - 30

10

28

 4-43

40.89

63.36

3.87

0

0

 31 - 40

10

40

 6-55

34.70

61.70

3.37

2

1

 41 - 50

10

14

 3-49

66.86

136.50

2.94

0

0

 51 - 60

10

44

 7-74

31.82

54.55

3.50

3

0

 61 - 65

5

15

 5-54

31.93

59.60

3.21

1

0

What is important, though, is Ishant’s contribution in India’s victories.

He was part of 25 Test wins in which he has claimed 90 wickets, at a strike rate of 50, while in matches lost he was quite poor, with just 47 wickets coming from 21 games, at a rate of just over two wickets per Test match.

Performance in Won / Lost / Drawn matches:

 

Mts

Wkts

Best

Avg

SR

RPO

5WI

10WM

in WON matches

25

90

7-74

26.40

50.52

3.13

2

0

in LOST matches

21

47

6-134

56.14

90.34

3.72

1

0

in DRAWN matches

19

63

6-51

36.30

67.52

3.22

4

1

Majority of Ishant’s victims are right-handers, as seen in the table below.

128 out of his 200 victims are right-handers, making it 64 percent as compared to 36 left-handers.

Details of victims

 

Wkts

%

Right-handed batsmen

128

64.00

Left-handed batsmen

72

36.00

Like most fast bowlers, Ishant does make the new ball count as can be seen in his wicket distribution according to batting positions.

 His most frequent victims have been openers, accounting for 47 of them among, including 26 of the No. 2 batsmen.

Majority of his wickets are top order batsmen, as much 67 percent, amounting to 133 wickets in sum.

Victims distribution – position-wise:

1st position

19

 

2nd position

26

 

3rd position

24

 

4th position

23

 

5th position

19

 

6th position

22

 

7th position

16

 

8th position

12

 

9th position

18

 

10th position

14

 

11th position

7

 

Top-6

133

66.50%

Bottom-5

67

33.50%

Mode of dismissals:

Bowled

39

Caught in the field

78

Caught by keeper

56

Caught & bowled

1

LBW

26

Australian and English batsmen are among Ishant’s most favourable victims.

England captain Alastair Cook was dismissed the most by him, eight times in all, while Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Ian Bell fell to the Indian pacer seven times each.

Favourite victims:

Alastair Cook

8

Shane Watson

7

Ricky Ponting

7

Michael Clarke

7

Ian Bell

7

Ishant’s best bowling performance in an innings so far is the 7-74 he took against England at Lord’s, which helped India win the Test last year.

Interestingly, out of the seven times he claimed five wickets or more, India won only twice, including the recently-concluded third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Best performances in an innings:

Figures

Opp

Venue

Season

Result

7-74

Eng

Lord's

2014

Won

6-51

NZ

Wellington

2013-14

Drawn

6-55

WI

Bridgetown

2011

Drawn

6-134

NZ

Auckland

2013-14

Lost

5-54

SL

Colombo SSC

2015

Won

5-77

WI

Roseau

2011

Drawn

5-118

Pak

Bangalore

2007-08

Drawn

Also read: India's Report Card: 10 for Ashwin; 9 for Ishant!

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