At the age of 32, Ishant Sharma will be playing the 100th Test of what seems a very long career.
He is so young seems challenging to remember as he came into the scene very early in his career.
When Zaheer Khan’s likes, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, and Sreesanth were in the squad and rotated as each was injury prone, Ishant broke in and impressed with his ability to bowl long spells.
He received support from his Delhi skipper Sehwag, who has seen him bowl eight to nine over spells in Ranji Trophy.
Unlike the other Indian pacers, Ishant Sharma had another gift.
He was tall and had swift action that allowed him to get pace on the ball without much effort.
He was erratic at times but developed into a handy workhorse.
Ishant Sharma’s Test career began back in 2007, with him replacing senior pacers in the early days.
He took a five-wicket haul in his second Test and went to Australia as a reserve bowler.
With Zaheer injured early in the tour, Ishant Sharma got a chance in the side, and his inclusion was a career-defining one.
He struggled with his lengths in Sydney, bowling in Australia for the first time but went on to understand the conditions and showed immense character during India’s win in Perth.
He enjoyed a good battle against Ricky Ponting, bowling an extended spell and picking up the wicket after being asked to bowl an extra over.
Throughout the match, he showcased his ability to move the ball around and let everyone know he could bowl long spells.
The spell and performance in Australia cemented his place in the side, and Ishant Sharma became India’s workhorse.
Through the years, he was given opportunities in white ball Cricket, but with injuries and lack of control, the pacer couldn’t make a big career in the short formats.
Even in Test Cricket, Ishant Sharma struggled with control, occasionally bowling loose deliveries, was criticized for not using his skillsets to the full potential.
He didn’t make the headlines much in the early 2010s but got his big break when India went abroad in 2014.
It was during 2014 when Ishant Sharma showed his ability to lead the bowling attack.
He started with nine wickets in Auckland and bettered his effort in Lords.
Touring England, India had to develop a new pace attack with Zaheer Khan injured and losing pace.
He played his last Test in New Zealand, and the spearhead of the attack changed to Sharma.
With doubts over the tall pacers ability, Sharma came up with a beautiful spell at Lords.
He was encouraged to use the short ball more with his height and took seven wickets in the Lords Test’s final innings to give India a historic win.
He made everyone believe his ability as the lead pacer, and his rise began from there, after a quiet period past his early brilliance.
The pacer learned and improved every time he toured, and his career hit another peak after 2016.
With India’s fast bowling contingent developing and bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah all performing well, each player’s roles were clear.
Umesh Yadav was a beauty in India, Mohammad Shami was handy in the second innings and could get reverse swing with ease, and Jasprit Bumrah has pace, bounce, and a unique action providing the X-factor.
Along with them, Ishant Sharma was given bowling long spells, allowing the others to bowl in short bursts.
He improved his accuracy and was able to maintain his length, allowing pressure to build.
With handy support, Ishant Sharma became a more significant weapon taking 76 wickets in Test Cricket from 2018.
He started with high-pace bowling in the 140s-150s but has now come down a bit and maintained his control well.
After thirteen years, Ishant Sharma has developed into a complete bowler and is now set to play his 100th Test.
He will be the second fast bowler after Kapil Dev to achieve the milestone, and at his age, Kapil Dev’s tally could well be in sight.