Friday, January 18, 2008

Ishant, India’s new pace ace

At 19, he is gangling, awkward — all arms and legs topped with a mop of hair that would have done any of the Beatles proud. But put that hard red cherry in his hands, and he can be quite a handful. This is exactly what Australia skipper Ricky Ponting discovered at the WACA Ground here on Saturday morning as he battled to avert defeat to India.

But the working-over Ishant Sharma meted out to him left its mark and the man rated as one of the best in the business eventually gave in. Ponting afterwards had good words for the kid out in the middle. His wicket, the first this morning really set India’s victory charge in motion and the man who made it happen said later of his exchange with Ponting: “It was when I got close to him after giving him a bouncer that he looked at me and smiled and complimented me. ‘Good game, mate’, he said. I was happy to hear it from him.”

Said Ponting: “I thought he bowled very well. It was a very good spell of fast bowling.” Ponting was hit on the pads or beaten repeatedly in the course of Sharma’s first seven overs and just as captain Anil Kumble was preparing to take him off, Sharma’s Delhi captain Virender Sehwag told him to keep going. The very next ball did Ponting in, rearing sharply and jagging in to take the edge and flying to gully where Rahul Dravid completed the catch.