Over the years, the most painful sight on a cricket field for Indian fans has been watching their countrymen being intimidated by world class fast bowlers. The Indian batsmen have often been ridiculed by threatening speedsters, against whom they have suffered several blows on the body during overseas tours.
But at Lord`s, on the final day of the second Test match, lanky Indian pacer Ishant Sharma displayed a scintillating spell of fast bowling, and the batsmen at the receiving end were English for a change.
Ishant Sharma, who is often seen trending on Twitter after leaking runs, despite all the criticism and jokes, got India something which we all had been yearning for – an overseas win.
Before the start of play on the final day at Lord`s, there was a lot of anticipation as to how India had a brilliant chance of ending their 28-year win drought at the Home of cricket. MS Dhoni`s boys needed just six wickets from 90 overs, while the Poms needed 214 to prevent yet another loss at home. There was hope, but at the same time there was also fear, as India had lost Tests from commanding positions against New Zealand and South Africa during their previous two overseas tours.
Ishant Sharma created a few chances early in the first session, but luck wasn`t going India`s way as the edges didn`t carry. Moeen Ali and Joe Root, two of England`s future stars, batted with grit and determination as we could sense another match slipping away. They had almost batted through the first session, before Ishant bowled a well directed bouncer to Ali, who hit it straight into the hands of Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg. These two had almost batted for 180 deliveries, but that wicket off the last ball before lunch, once again gave the Indian fans some hope, and the Indian seamers an appetite to hunt for the remaining five wickets.
Post lunch, Ishant Sharma looked like a different bowler. Even after he was smashed for two boundaries by Matt Prior off short deliveries, Ishant stuck to Dhoni`s plan which eventually worked when Prior hit a shot, possibly his last in Tests, straight into the hands of Murali Vijay at deep midwicket. The entire Indian team erupted with joy, and the way Dhoni celebrated the dismissal, is a gesture we have rarely seen from him on a cricket field.
The victory was very special, considering the way Indian team was annihilated during their last tour to England. While there were quite a few heroes for India in the Lord’s Test, Ishant is someone who should take a lot of confidence from his record spell.
He might not be as brutal as Mitchell Johnson, or as intimidating as Dale Steyn, but Ishant is someone who has brought a smile back on the faces of the Indian fans who were desperately waiting for an overseas win. The victory tastes even sweeter as it has come at Lord`s - a ground where India last won a Test under the leadership of Kapil Dev.
The Lord’s Test ended on July 21, but Ishant Sharma is still trending on Twitter. While it could be because of some more jokes, he is there mainly since he is India’s man of the moment.