- The selectors have finally started to look beyond Ishant, a veteran of over 100 Test matches.
- All three of Ishant, Pujara and Rahane are 33-year-old.
- Rahane losing his Test vice-captaincy could be a clear hint that the team expects far more from him with the bat.
All eyes will be on India’s tour of South Africa for more than one reason. While the Test matches will see some of the proven stars and experienced campaigners perhaps get one last chance to prove their worth after a string of poor outings in the recent games, the ODIs will see Rohit Sharma as full-time captain for the first time.
For the longest form of the game, players like Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara will be under the scanner but along with them, recent reports suggest that it could be the last overseas tour for pacer Ishant Sharma. It is being learned that with more and more young pacers waiting for their turn in the wings, the selectors have finally started to look beyond Ishant, a veteran of over 100 Test matches.
Diminishing returns with the ball in recent matches don’t help Ishant’s cause either. Interestingly all three of Ishant, Pujara and Rahane are 33-year-old and while Pujara has chipped with a fifty here and there, there have been more tough days on the field than otherwise for Rahane and Ishant. Moreover, Rahane losing his Test vice-captaincy could be a clear hint that the team expects far more from him with the bat.
This could be it for Ishant: BCCI official
“Rahane’s removal as vice-captain is a clear warning signal to him. As a senior member in the side, he needs to contribute more. Same is true for Pujara also. He too has been around for a long time and now the team expects him to play those crucial knocks in big games. In case they score and have a significant impact on the series, they might be able to extend their Test careers. But in the case of Ishant, this could be it,” a top BCCI official was quoted as saying in an Indian Express report.
With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami leading the Indian pace attack along with Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur already having proven their utility with the likes of Navdeep Saini, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna all waiting, Ishant would have to perform or perish.
After the South Africa tour, there are Test matches at home where there is hardly space for a third seamer and Ishant is not likely to be the preferred pacer for Team India. The next overseas Test is a one-off affair in England which is another factor suggesting the lanky pacer’s career could be over.
It remains to be seen if Ishant gets an opportunity in South Africa and if he does whether he manages to impress the selectors enough to extend his international career.