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Kohli a rock but has anyone noticed Ishant?

Virat Kohli provided the rock India needed as they chase down Australia's first innings score. However a certain tall lanky Indian paceman has quietly been having the best year of his career.

Ishant Sharma has had a tremendous 2018. Image: The National

In the universe of Indian cricket, everything revolves around Virat Kohli. He is their leader on and off the field, and without doubt their best batsman.

Coming in at 2 for 8 chasing down 325, India needed him, and to date, he has delivered. Besides a play and a miss every now and then, he looked like an absolute rock at the top of that order.

However to focus on Kohli would be missing out on a story that has developed throughout 2018. That of the outstanding bowling of Ishant Sharma.

Coming into 2018, Sharma was averaging 36.55, and to frank, it's a poor return for a fast bowler, even on the spin friendly wickets of the sub-continent. Whenever he had come to Australia, his over the wicket bowling and natural shape across the left handers were never a problem, and besides the wonderful duel with Ricky Ponting in 2008, it's hard to remember a memorable spell from the tall Indian paceman on the Australian continent.

Sharma; had only averaged below 30 in a calendar year once, taking 11 wickets at 28.72 in 2016. However 2018 has seen Ishant take his cricket to a level not seen before.

It could be fair to say Ishant's career was at a bit of a cross roads at the start of 2018. He was left out of the first test team against South Africa . However once selected for the remaining two tests he performed admirably, taking 8 wickets at 18.75.

His 5/51 at Birmingham should have led India to victory. It was a brilliant second innings spell where he looked like taking a wicket with every ball, such was his swing and accuracy. He had helped reduce England to 7-87 only for lower order resistance helping England to, what ultimately proved a winning score.

Ishant's 5/51 at Birmingham was one of the tourists' highlights of the English Summer. Source: Wisden

He finished the England series with 18 wickets at just over 24. Another good return from Sharma.

Forward ahead to Australia. Gone are the days of him bowling a line that the batsmen didn't feel they needed to play. He has adapted to his natural in movement to the right hander and away movement to the left hander. If one had to be critical, it took longer than it should have, but some cricketers mature later than others. Graham Gooch was getting better when he was in his late 30s.

With 7 wickets in this series at 19.42, it's been a solid start from the flowing haired quick. To date, he has taken 37 wickets this calendar year at 20.75, easily his best returns average wise over his career.

It's been a long time coming, but Virat may just have the leader of the bowling attack Ishant has never quite been for his country.

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