Ishant version 2.0
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Twice that over, Ishant Sharma had gotten the ball to jag back into Kevin Pietersen. The first one had smacked the England number three near his right wrist and the second struck him on his pads, a fraction outside off stump. Pietersen now prodded at the last ball of the over. It left him, and swooshed past his outside edge. Ishant's figures read 3-2-1-1. Pietersen had faced seven balls, and hadn't scored a run.
Pietersen continued to scratch away for the bulk of his innings, before turning 47 from 83 balls into 76 from 93. Ishant bore the brunt of his late assault, before destroying his stumps with a yorker. In the end, he finished with not particularly standout figures of 10-2-47-2. Ishant's spell contained a little bit of everything he has done since his return to ODI cricket after 18 months.
He has picked up wickets (10 in six matches at 29.9), bowled economically on some occasions (the Pakistan series, the Ranchi ODI against England) and expensively at other times (Rajkot and Kochi). He has moved the ball both ways, and deployed a couple of new weapons at the death, the yorker and the slower ball, which was a consistent threat against Pakistan.
And Ishant being Ishant, his spell also had an 'unlucky' moment, Virat Kohli, perhaps a touch too wide at slip, putting down an edge from Joe Root when he hadn't yet gotten off the mark.
In all, Ishant seems to have made a cautiously positive return to coloured clothing. It's too early, however, to wonder how he will do in the Tests against Australia. In Tests, Ishant often leaves batsmen gasping for air without quite managing to dismiss them. He also bowls too many pressure-release spells, during which he struggles to land the ball where he wants to. The return to ODI cricket could help Ishant in this regard, giving him an opportunity to bowl through the year and maintain his rhythm.
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