Paceman Ishant Sharma sent a message to the selectors with a five-wicket haul against Haryana in a Ranji Trophy match in Delhi on Friday. His fifer ensured that Delhi bundled out the visitors for 138 and ended the second day with an overall lead of 98 runs. He struck at crucial stages to destroy the top and lower order which ensured a batting collapse by Haryana. Cheteshwar Pujara did his reputation no harm as he hit 102 against Bengal in Kolkata. His knock was the only substantial contribution as Saurashtra managed just 225 after Bengal made 303 in their first innings. Pujara's hundred had 15 fours and one six.
The performance could not have come at the better time for Ishant who is trying to get back into the Indian team. His recent performances have been nothing to write home about as he was smashed to all parts in the recent ODI series against Australia. In fact Ishant's bowling figures in his last three matches are 1/56, 0/70 and 1/63. The last match saw James Faulkner demolish him for 30 runs in one over, a match that Australia went on to win from a hopeless position. Pujara, on the other hand has been in good form, having scored a century in the second Test against West Indies in Mumbai.
Things went from bad to worse as Ishant failed to find a place in the playing eleven when India hosted West Indies in a two-Test series. With Mohammed Shami arriving on the scene with a bang and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bowling consistently well, it makes Ishant's chances of a comeback all the more difficult. He was not considered for the ODI series against Windies and knows it's an uphill task to make the cut for the trip to South Africa. While Pujara is a certainty to go to South Africa, the Ranji Trophy is his opportunity to get some batting practice ahead of an overseas series.