India vs England: Ishant Sharma Holds The Key To India's Test Series Win In England, Says Ashish Nehra
Kohli's team might be trailing 0-1 in the Test series but former India pacer Ashish Nehra is of the view that the bowling unit spearheaded by seasoned Ishant Sharma is extremely potent.
Pacer Ishant Sharma, who bagged seven wickets, was the pick of the Indian bowlers as Virat Kohli-led Team India came excruciatingly close to winning the opening Test of the five-match series against England at Edgbaston. Ishant picked up his 8th five-for in the longest format of the game to restrict England to 180 in their second innings, leaving a tricky target of 194 runs for the visitors. Chasing 194, India suffered a batting collapse that was reminiscent of their batting failures four years ago. In spite of skipper Kohli's spirited display, the touring party lost by 31 runs in Birmingham. Kohli's team might be trailing 0-1 in the Test series but former India pacer Ashish Nehra is of the view that the bowling unit spearheaded by seasoned Ishant Sharma is extremely potent.
"In the first Test match we managed to pick 20 wickets and, more importantly, somebody like Ishant Sharma - leading from the front after playing so many Test matches - that was good to see," Nehra told PTI.
"We have a huge number of options, but the more important thing is quality. We have 6-7 fast bowlers and one or two come in behind also and they have quality," he said.
"Mohammed Shami was struggling with injuries, not easy to come back, and bowled his heart out (in the first Test). We have Umesh Yadav, who has heaps of talent. You have JaspritBumrah, who has done so well, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, who has been injured, but in One Dayers he is your number one guy," the 39-year-old added.
Shifting his focus to Hardik Pandya, who has become a regular feature in the Indian Test side, Nehra said though the all-rounder has improved as a bowler, he still needs a cushion and there is a long way ahead for the 24-year-old.
"I personally feel when he (Hardik) is playing as a fifth bowler (in Tests), or in even T20s or One Dayers, then we need some cushion behind him. Because he is not somebody who is bowling 10 overs consistently. At times we have six batters but nobody bowls.
"He (Hardik)has done well, shown some improvement in his graph, but he has not reached that way (position) that he's your fifth bowler in 50 over (game)," Nehra pointed out.
"But in Leeds, captain (Virat Kohli) gave him the new ball ahead of Shardul Thakur, so the captain is showing faith in him. As a bowler, he is improving, but still there is a long way to go and you cannot say he is your certain fifth bowler," Nehra said.
After a year of playing Test cricket, Hardik would not be too proud of his seven wickets in eight matches but he has made a significant impact with the bat by scoring 421 runs at an average of 35.08 (not including the ongoing Lord's Test).
Pandya has always been used sparingly by Kohli and it has resulted in no real success with the ball for the Baroda player.
In the first Test of the ongoing five-match series against England, Pandya was utilised for just 10 overs and remained wicketless, proving that the all-rounder still has a lot of ground to make.
(With PTI Inputs)