Former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar questioned India’s decision to open the bowling with Ishant Sharma on Day 1 of the Headingley Test after the visitors were bundled out for 78. Agarkar highlighted that Ishant looked far from his best and his run-up was gingerly as India struggled to break the opening stand on a dominant day for England.
Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns, England’s newfound opening pair, reached Stumps at 120 for 0 as the hosts sealed a 42-run lead to pile up pressure on India.
After getting bowled out for their 9th lowest Test score, India started off poorly, allowing Hameed and Burns to get settled into their innings. While Jasprit Bumrah was holding from one end, Ishant offered freebies at will.
The senior pacer’s struggles were evident as early as the first over as Ishant started with 2 no-balls before offering width to Hameed who got off the mark with a boundary.
Overall, India struggled to bowl fuller lengths that brought so much success to England fast bowlers on the opening day. It looked like the two teams were playing on different pitches as India lost wickets in a hurry while they failed to pick up even one wicket.
“I think Ishant Sharma started with some nice, friendly deliveries outside off, exactly what India didn’t need after getting only 78 runs on the board,” Agarkar told Sony Sports.
“It looked that way (looked a bit gingerly). You think that after Lord’s, he was again slow today. That’s why you have to question why he was given the first over. I know he is the senior guy with a lot of experience. But at the moment, there are two guys who are better than him at the moment in the team.
“Having been bowled out for 78, that was a decision that they had to make. It may not have worked but bowling Ishant Sharma didn’t look at the right decision,” he added.
‘India bowlers were desperate to get wickets’
Ishant bowled 7 overs and conceded 26 runs and was the only bowler to finish Day 1 without a maiden. Bumrah and Shami bowled 18 overs between them and kept things tight but the wicket didn’t come. Hero of the Lord’s Test, Siraj bowled 7 overs but failed to trouble the two English openers.
“He (Virat Kohli) knew towards the end of the day’s play who his best bowlers were.
“It was pretty evident, England were a lot tighter. The conditions were a bit different. England’s two tall bowlers got a bit more bounce. India perhaps were a bit desperate to get wickets,” Agarkar added.
Ishant was lacklustre on Day 1: Manjrekar
Meanwhile, Sanjay Manjrekar said he did not like India persisting with Ishant despite finding out that the senior pacer was having an off-day.
“This is a rare thing. You will never see Ishant Sharma bowl like this. I didn’t like that he was trying to bowl Ishant Sharma back into form by bowling him more overs than he needed to when you have got only 78 on the board. You can’t be giving him more overs when he has been really lacklustre,” Manjrekar said.