Numbers, records hold a special place in a sportsperson’s heart. For, this is what will stay with them once they bid adieu to their beloved sport.
Ishant Sharma is set to reach a milestone that only one Indian pacer (Kapil Dev) could scale—100 Tests.
The lanky pacer will become the fourth Indian bowler after Anil Kumble, Kapil and Harbhajan Singh to achieve the milestone on Wednesday when India take on England in the third Test at the refurbished Sardar Vallabhbhai Stadium at Motera here. Ishant was just a year old when Kapil achieved the 100-Test feat in the 1989 Karachi Test. During a virtual media interaction on Monday, Ishant was asked to describe his feelings going into the 100th Test: “I have always played with the motive of winning matches for my team and it will stay that way till I keep playing. When you finish your career, you can look back at this milestone, but to be honest, these things are just numbers for me. I don’t play for numbers. My only motivation is to pull my team out of a tough situation. If there is a partnership, then how do I break it.
That’s my only focus,” said Ishant, who has 302 Test victims. He seemed cool about his topsy-turvy career graph. After his initial burst on the international scene, where he claimed 130 Test wickets in 42 matches between 2007 and 2011, Ishant almost went into the wilderness. He struggled to find his rhythm and breakthroughs at regular intervals. However, the Delhi pacer has redeemed himself since the 2018 tour to South Africa. In his last 20 Tests, Ishant has claimed 76 wickets at a strike rate of 42.55 (overall career strike rate 60.9) that include four five-wicket hauls.
Although Ishant claimed his improved strike rate is due to playing more overseas Tests in which he picked 53 wickets in that period, at home too he has a decent showing of 23 wickets in seven Tests. Ishant, who has missed five Tests due to injury, turned philosopher when mid-day asked if the wait for his 100th Test was frustrating. “I would have loved to go to Australia and complete my 100th Test there. See, there are many things which are not in your hands. Covid happened, then the injury and I could not go to Australia. It’s always better to learn in life and move on quickly. That’s the most important thing I have learnt in my career. It’s always better to go ahead in life than to get stuck in your past performances or past incidents,” Ishant signed off.