Reports: South Africa tour likely to be Ishant Sharma's last assignment in national colours

Reports: South Africa tour likely to be Ishant Sharma’s last assignment in national colours

Ishant is no more a sure starter in India’s playing XI.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

In what can be called a major development, India’s upcoming tour of South Africa might be Ishant Sharma’s last assignment in national colours. The Virat Kohli-led side is scheduled to play three Tests in the rainbow nation, and Ishant is no more a sure starter in India’s playing XI.  Having featured in 105 Tests so far, the right-arm fast bowler has indeed done a commendable job in the longest format.

However, the BCCI selectors have decided to look beyond him with several young and talented pacers fighting for a spot in the playing XI. The rise of Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj seems to have played a major role in this decision. Hence, Ishant, along with two other veterans, Ajnikya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, will be under the scanner during the series, which gets underway on December 26.

Ajinkya Rahane’s removal as vice-captain is a clear warning to Ishant Sharma: 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,” a top BCCI official told The Indian Express.

“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,” the official added. It wasn’t long when the Delhi-born speedster was the spearhead of India’s pace attack. However, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami’s rise to prominence meant the pacer lost his status.

Besides these Team India regulars, fast bowlers like Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Umran Malik and Navdeep Saini have been waiting in the wings. Not to forget, Ishant couldn’t find a place in India’s four-man pace attack during the England tour earlier this year. He didn’t either feature in the second and final Test against New Zealand in the recently-concluded series.

Ishant’s form has also dipped lately and the same could have inspired this reported call from the selectors. Over the past 12 months, Ishant has played eight Tests, taking 14 wickets at 32.71. Hence, it would be interesting to see how the South African tour pans out for him.