Team India’s fast bowler Ishant Sharma is 33 and for a pacer, this period is tricky. First, he must ensure his fitness levels are met with international standards. Second, he is always in a tussle with the young blood that is coming in.
The Delhi-born military medium pacer despite his extraordinary physical stature has not been in good form in the past year and there have been fitness concerns with him as well.
A top BCCI official has said that the South Africa tour could be the last outing for Ishant in the Indian cricket team. The proverbial Damocles’ sword is hanging over Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, who are in their 30s too.
“Rahane’s removal as vice-captain is a clear warning signal to him. As a senior member on the side, he needs to contribute more. The same is true for Pujara also. He too has been around for a long time and now the team expects him to play those crucial knocks in big games. In case they score and have a significant impact on the series, they might be able to extend their Test careers. But in the case of Ishant, this could be it,” said the BCCI official.
India’s tour of South Africa begins with three tests on 26 December, followed by three ODIs. Earlier, the tour also comprised of T20s, but due to a change in the schedule due to the Omicron mutant of the China-origin coronavirus, the series will now be played next year at a different time.
A right-arm fast-medium bowler, Ishant Sharma has lost speed since he emerged on the international scene, although in 2008 he bowled a delivery at over 152 km/h. Such occurrences were not the norm as his pace dropped to around 130 km/h, but under Eric Simons (who was India’s bowling coach from 2010 to 2012) Sharma was regularly bowling in excess of 140 km/h when India toured Australia in 2011/12.
According to India’s former bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, Ishant is among the most dedicated bowlers in India’s set-up.