Ishant Sharma has been the brightest star of Indian bowling in the first innings of the first Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. He returned with a five-wicket haul as India managed to bowl out New Zealand 348 runs, restricting the first-innings lead to 183 runs.
Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma's participation in the Test series looked in jeopardy one week before the start of the series. The tall and lanky after suffering from a Grade 3 tear on his right ankle while playing for Delhi in their Ranji Trophy encounter against Vidarbha at the Arun Jaitley Stadium last month. The 31-year veteran of 96 Tests was initially ruled out only to join his teammates in New Zealand at the last moment after clearing the fitness test at the National Cricket Academy.
Deprived of sleep and Jasprit Bumrah looking out of rhythm the onus was on Ishant Sharma after a poor outing with the bat by the batsmen. The Delhi cricketers stood tall to his potential to bag a five-wicket haul and lead India's bowling attack. The right-arm pacer dismissal included Tom Blundell, Tom Latham and Ross Taylor on day 2 while he removed Trent Boult and Tim Southee on day three.
With this, Ishant bagged his 11th five-wicket haul in Test cricket. He is currently tied with Zaheer Khan at the second spot in the chart of Indian pacers with most five-wicket hauls in whites. The lanky pacer also went past Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Zaheer Khan to record the third most number of five-wicket hauls in away Tests. He is just behind Anil Kumble (10) and Kapil Dev (12) now.
Following his stunning show with the ball, former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie heaped praise on the Indian speedster. The cricketer-turned coach also lauded Ishant Sharma's urge to learn and improve. Notably, Gillespie has witnessed the progress of Ishant from close quarters playing in the County Championship for Sussex.
"Very happy to see Ishant do so well- all down to his attitude to want to learn, improve and get better. The current coaching staff of the @BCCI team need to take a lot of credit," Gillespie said in a tweet.