The rise and rise of Ishant Sharma

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> If nothing else, we will remember Ishant from this trip by the spectacular mess he has made of Ricky Ponting's technique.

Updated: February 16, 2008 19:17 IST
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On the eve of the India-Australia game, a news channel in India was airing a story on how Ishant Sharma had done a 'Munaf'.

The story said that India's bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad had given his prodigy a mouthful for not informing the team management of an injury he's been carrying.

The story went on to say that Ishant would be dropped from Sunday's game.

If you are an India supporter, thank heavens not all news on TV these days is reliable!

It didn't matter if Ishant really had that injury or not. Sunday would be the day the sun would shine upon him. There would be no dropped catches, no inept umpiring to hold him back.

His luck had been sporadic, but not the effort in his delivery stride. This day had spent eight weeks in the making. For that long, Ishant has been threatening to end up with a pile of wickets - till he finally did.

New ball, new-found luck

Perhaps, it was the new ball that did the trick. Captain MS Dhoni agrees.

"He started off brilliantly," Dhoni said after the game. "In the last few games we have given him the semi-new ball. But we gave him the new ball here because he has been our best bowler recently."

His four-for meant much more than that - it gave India a rare win over Australia at the MCG, their fortress in recent times.

Bad start, great finish

The start hadn't been all that brilliant. Matthew Hayden, dropped in Ishant's first over, pinched 18 runs off his second.

But like Ishant himself said after the game, "I didn't think about the batsman's strengths, I stuck to mine."
That attitude paid off. Hayden scratched one to Dhoni to get Ishant off the mark.

Then, Ricky Ponting, who has been the best batsman around for some years now, was done in - again - by one that exploded off good length and went to slip.

It brought back memories of the 1996-97 Test series in Australia when Glenn McGrath made Brian Lara look like a fool again and again through the series.

The quick wickets allowed India to settle down and helped Ishant get into rhythm. He added Andrew Symonds and Stuart Clark to his kitty. After his first two overs read 0-24, the next 7.1 read 4-14.

We remember Irfan Pathan's arrival at the big stage by that toe-cruncher that disturbed Adam Gilchrist's woodwork in Sydney four years ago. Even if Ishant doesn't take any more wickets on this trip, we could remember his performance here by how he found an invisible chink in Ponting's technique and made the best batsman in the world look very, very ordinary.

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