An Ode to Ishant

Let’s be clear: there’s no reason anyone should pay nearly a million dollars for this man ($800,000 more than Glenn McGrath), but he’s certainly worth something. India has seen so many talented pace bowlers in recent years — Sreesanth, Balaji, Khan, Singh — but no one has impressed as highly and as quickly as this 19-year old lad.

It’s already old hat, but that period of play in the 3rd Test against Australia against Ricky Ponting will have to go down as the paragon of what Test cricket is about. Cricket enthusiasts make much of the “greatest over” that Freddie Flintoff delivered in 2005 to get rid of Langer and Ponting, but this was the greatest hour. It is said about Ponting that once he’s set — that is, once he reaches 20 or 30 — he is set, and will not be dislodged until he reaches a century (at least). On this occasion, however, he never looked at home, misreading ball after ball.

And, really, the fact that this Sharma is only 19 years old adds so much to the drama. There’s something cruel about sports; the way they allow anyone with talent, no matter how untested, to stand up to the experienced and reputed. But it’s the most thrilling part of it as well: over the last three or four years, no one has figured out Ponting. This boy, however, did. “Ek aur karega?” asked Kumble. And he replied, famously, “Ha, main karoonga.” I will do it. [See below.]

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