By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi: Even as everyone has spoken about how both Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu have been gifted a fresh lease of life by being named in Indias stand-by list for the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, the one name that has missed all is pacer Ishant Sharma. Just like Pant-Rayudu-Navdeep Saini, Ishant and Axar Patel are also part of the reserves named by the Indian selectors for the showpiece event.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI functionary said that the five players have been informed that they are in the stand-by list and they should be ready to take the flight if and when needed. Interestingly, Saini will already be in England with the team to help the batsmen prepare for the tournament.
“Ishant, Axar, Pant, Rayudu and Saini are aware that they have been named stand-by. The board has informed them about this and while four of them won’t be travelling with the team like Saini, they have been asked to be ready to jump onto the plane whenever needed.
“We were looking at two batsmen, two pacers and a spinner when we decided to name the stand-by players.
“As you are aware, this year’s format will see every team competing against every other team in the tournament and covering the bases is very important in such long format tournaments,” the functionary explained.
Coming back to Ishant, his has been a journey folklore are made of. From winning India the final of the Champions Trophy in England in 2013 to being left out of even the IPL last season, the Test pace spearhead has had a tough ride.
However, the fast bowler took it in his stride, went to play county cricket and returned a matured bowler. Even in this edition of the IPL, Ishant has shown the ability to bowl a great line and length, not getting flustered by the batsman’s attempt to hit fifth gear.
The board functionary said that his evolving as a bowler over the last year is one of the major reasons why the team believes that he can be the answer if one from the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami gets injured during the World Cup.
“You cannot buy experience in the market. Moreover, Ishant has matured as a bowler and knows what is required of him. Considering the magnanimity of the tournament, it was felt that he could be the best bet to come in and soak the pressure that comes with playing for the country on the big stage. He has done it in the past and considering how he has excelled over the last year, he can do it again,” he said.
Ishant had himself spoken ahead of this year’s IPL how a good show could help him grab the fourth pacer’s spot. “Whoever can do well in red-ball cricket can do well in any format. That’s the basic of all cricket that we play. All you need to do is back your varieties that you have with the white ball. If I do well in this format (T20), I am sure I can be that fourth seamer going into the World Cup,” he had said.
He had also spoken how playing county cricket last season while the other Indian players were busy in the IPL helped him understand his game better.
“I think county has helped me a lot as it was very tiring. Bowling 300 overs in just 16 days, I played four games. But it brought a lot of control to my game. Jason Gillespie (Sussex coach) gave me a lot of confidence. He was always supportive and gave me freedom. I was there for just two months so no technical changes, but I did work on some things which have helped,” he had explained.
While the selectors decided to not pick the fourth pacer and went with an additional spinner in Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant has definitely made his presence felt and has bowled his way into the stand-by list, breaking perceptions that he is only a red-ball champion.
(Baidurjo Bhose can be contacted at [email protected])