Ishant Sharma's mesmeric spell to Ricky Ponting at the WACA, Perth will remain one of the highlights of the 2008 Border Gavaskar series, and will be remembered for years to come. Harbhajan Singh has had his number for some time now but rarely has Ponting been shown up as so vulnerable for such a long period of time since he established himself as Australia's best batsman. That Ishant is 19 and playing his fourth Test only added to the drama and romance.
In his first over, an edge from Michael Hussey fell just short of second slip, and in the next over, which was nearly as sensational as Flintoff's, he could have had Ponting twice. One ball jagged in and had Ponting fending; another, that perfect ball which is every right-arm bowler's dream, came in with arm and left Ponting as he shaped to defend, missing the edge by a whisker. And then one came in to trap Ponting in front; it was a decision the umpire wouldn't have been roasted for had he given it to the bowler, but only a doubt about the height will have saved Ponting.
Many would have been excused for thinking that the moment had passed, for an exceptional over such as that would be hard to reproduce, certainly by a bowler of his experience. But Ishant charged on, hurrying Ponting, cutting him in half with a ball that rose and cut off the seam and got him to mistime repeatedly. With every over, Ponting seemed to have weathered the storm for undoubtedly the young man couldn't carry on for ever. Indeed, RP Singh was seen approaching the bowling end after Ishant had bowled seven overs, but a last-minute change of mind - prompted by Virender Sehwag, his Delhi captain - kept Ishant in the fray and the reward came off the very next ball.
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