Ishant raring to clear final fitness hurdle

National selectors will be keeping tabs on the Delhi pacer

While a host of Indian Premier League franchises’ talent scouts will be preparing for February’s Player Auction by watching the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the national selectors will be keeping a close eye on Delhi’s matches in the league stage, to be held over the next nine days, starting with a face-off against Mumbai on Monday.

After all, the league stage is going to be a sort of final fitness test for Ishant Sharma ahead of India’s forthcoming series against England.

The veteran pacer from Delhi has been out of action for a long time, returning midway through the IPL owing to a side strain.

Despite Ishant being declared fit by the National Cricket Academy, along with Rohit Sharma last month, it was decided against including him in the squad for Australia due to lack of match-practice. As a result the re-jigged selection panel, with the recent inclusion of three former India pacers, will be keeping tabs on the action in Mumbai.

Delhi chief coach Rajkumar Sharma was confident of Ishant coming good, beginning with the game against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. “He is raring to go. He has been bowling at his best right through the preparatory camp. I am sure he will be a big boost to the team, with his bowling and experience,” said Rajkumar to The Hindu on Sunday.

The key

With India’s pace unit suffering a spate of injuries in Australia, Ishant’s presence may well be the key in the series against England, scheduled to start on February 5. Add to that the fact that the lanky bowler is just three Tests away from becoming only the second India pacer to earn 100 caps, it is understandable Ishant hasn’t been rushed back into action.

Come Monday afternoon, he will hope to rush Suryakumar Yadav and Co. into shots with his pace.

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