Ishant Sharma was thrilled to see his wickets column swell after a six-wicket match haul in the first Test against England in Edgbaston edged India towards victory.
It also helped India’s most experienced bowler make amends after being labelled as a defensive bowler for most of his career. Ishant produced a dream spell on Friday, claiming three wickets in an over, four for 16 runs and his eighth five-wicket innings haul.
Ishant’s 6/97 helped India close in on a memorable win as the visitors, chasing 194, reached 110/5 at stumps on the third day at a venue where they have never won, losing five of the six previous games.
“Actually, I got tired of the tag. I am bowling well but my wicket column has always not been very good. It feels very good because I put in a lot of work. Playing for your country and taking five wickets, that too in the second innings, feels nice,” he told reporters.
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Ishant has played 50 of his 83 Tests away, and claimed seven of his eight five-wicket innings haul also outside India.
He was confident of India’s victory to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.
“Losing five wickets does not mean much. You saw how we got their batsmen out quickly, but one partnership does happen. So, this small chase can happen quite easily.”
No 8 Sam Curran top-scored with 63 and rallied England from 87-7 to 180 all out in the second innings.
The pacer credited his County stint with Essex for his success. Ishant captured his career-best haul of 7/74 on the 2014 tour, bowling India to victory in the Lord’s Test.
“Playing County made a huge difference. In a way, I was disappointed (not playing IPL 2018), but it was good for me. I played for Sussex and bowled with the Dukes ball. One good thing was although I only played four matches, there were overs behind me, I bowled around 150-200 overs (he bowled 114.3 overs in the first-class games). I played one-dayers also, so the experience was really good.”
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Ishant had a five-wicket haul for Sussex against Warwickshire at the Edgbaston ground and his knowledge of English conditions proved crucial. Besides, his natural delivery leaves left-handers, and seven of England’s batsmen are left-handed.
“From the beginning, the plan was for me to bowl to left-handers. The plan was to bowl from over the stumps, but if the ball started to swing, I would immediately switch to around the stumps.”
Ishant also made a 63 for Sussex in a first-class game, and that experienced showed as he supported Kohli during his century.
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“Here the wicket doesn’t help much and when the sun comes out, there is no problem for batsmen. But when there is cloud cover, it is a big problem as the ball starts swinging. The seam stays hard for the first 40 overs, and the fewer wickets you lose in that phase, the better.”
He praised skipper Kohli for marshalling the lower order during his first innings 149, and was confident he would guide India to victory on Saturday. Kohli was 43 not out with Karthik on 18 at stumps.
“Virat paced his innings. He adapted by first working hard to get to 50 but when he made the last fifty runs, he made them in a free-flowing way. The partnerships he had with the lower order were very important.
“For us, DK (Dinesh Karthik) also has a positive intent. Virat made 150 in the first innings and DK got out, but he still has a positive intent.”