Thursday, August 12, 2010

The fast and the Injurious

Munaf Patel is being flown in to replace Ishant Sharma in the tri nation ODI tourney at SL.
Reason: Ishant is struggling with a knee injury.

A tinge of sadness comes upon hearing those 2 names. Together, in the same sentence. In another depressing news of injury to an upcoming Indian fast bowler. As of today neither are quite the 'fast bowlers' as per the first three words of that report, none bowling with the menace associated with fast bowling. Certainly not any more.

And yet, this is what we got, and England had to believe they got, from Munaf in his first Test in early 2006. Those indeed are the dry stats and may not reflect much. But which Indian cricket fan can forget the thrilling memory of a debutante Munaf Patel sending down genuinely unplayable balls, balls that rose from length with English batsmen at Mohali wondering what hit them?

It was great while it lasted - all of one and half series.

Ishant the 'up your nose' fast bowler lasted a little more - about six months. This was his 'coming of age' match - and for the next quite some innings in all forms of the game he had 'The' Ponting (of 2007-08) as his bunny at the latter's own backyard.

Don't let your recent memory of Ishant's nightmare spells (inside IPL and out of it) make you snigger at the thought that his knockout spell on that overcast morning of the Perth Test ever happened. In case you have forgotten, you can check it out here. Forget the analysis by ex-cricketers in that video. Instead, look at the sheer number of deliveries and ways in which Ponting was lucky to survive for many overs in that 'up there for keeps', never-ending, unlucky-till-Ricky-fell 9-over spell by a 19 year old debutante. And the boy-man was almost as nippy and dangerous in the 9th over, when he got Ponting out, as he was at his first bowl.

Very recently, Ishant had once again looked intent and difficult-to-play in some spells of the 3rd 'Laxman & Ajantha' Test at P Sara Oval last week. That is where melancholy comes. Munaf went the 'can't retain top pace in the international circuit' way and broke hearts. Ishant did the same and broke hearts. Now that Ishant looks to be turning back ever so slightly he has to get injured at his knee.

The only hint of positive note that the news has: Munaf gets another chance to turn his clock back...and hopefully find his top pace again.

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