Can Ishant Sharma repeat the influence he had over the Australian batsmen a year ago? The teenaged Indian beanpole, who had the tough-as-nails Australian captain and all-time great batsman, Ricky Ponting, hopping unexpectedly - like Mendis did unto the Indian Fab-ric recently?
Let me refresh your memories about what one is speaking about. Below is a video clip from the 3rd Test at Perth, 2007-08, which has preserved brief images of Ishant's influence.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then - Ricky Ponting and Ishant Sharma shared nets and a dressing room in the Eden Gardens - and limited overs has necessarily blunted the bowler, who must curb to survive longer. He isn't anymore the precocious teenager keen to blast out a large-sized niche fitting his tall frame, in the established order of the universe. He has that today, and with plenty of limbroom to spare than the average niche.
He takes the field today as an indispensible component of the established order of the Indian cricket universe. OK, "indispensible" may belong to the realm of hyperbole, but we certainly ask about him these days if he doesn't walk out with the team onto the ground. He leads, and is expected to lead each and every time he marks his run up for India. Does this boy-man have it in him to do the hard yards day-in and day out? Mind you, this is possibly's Ricky's final trip to India as test captain and perhaps player - will Ishant have him consistently in the bag along with a few significant players? Memories of another teenager called Irfan are difficult to shake off...
Does Ishant Sharma have that natural ability to be India's Kapil Dev redux? Will he be able to do it all over again? Will he be able to be himself all over again? Maybe he can better...The second season will show us how it goes.