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Match-winner Ishant Sharma needed convincing to go short

Reuters
Jul 22, 2014 at 10:15am IST

London: Ishant Sharma's short-pitched barrage inspired India to victory at Lord's on Monday, but the tall right-arm seamer needed more than a little convincing from his captain to attempt the match-winning tactic.

Sharma took career-best figures of 7 for 74 as India claimed a 95-run victory to go 1-0 up in the best-of-five series.

His breathtaking effort included a spell of five wickets in eight overs, with England's batsmen time and again tempted to take on anything short of a length.

Match-winner Ishant needed convincing to go short

Ishant Sharma claimed seven wickets to help India win at Lord's after 28 years. (Getty)

The win was India's first away from home since 2011 and second at Lord's, their only previous success there in 1986.

After being presented with a green surface that rewarded bowlers for pitching the ball up on the first few days of the test, Sharma was initially reluctant to bowl short on the final afternoon.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insisted, however, and the 25-year-old reaped the rewards, getting rid of Moeen Ali with a brute of ball aimed at his body, while Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and Joe Root all fell attempting to hook.

"To start with it was a bit difficult to convince him, so the last two overs when he came in, I just told him to bowl short," Dhoni told reporters.

"I set a field to him so that he doesn't even think of bowling up, so that was the strategy - give him a field where he is forced to bowl the kind of length I want him to bowl.

"It worked, and once he got Moeen's wicket I think he was eager enough to try that line for a consistent period of time."

Mop-haired Sharma has at times struggled to win the affections of Indian cricket fans, but his captain had no doubt about having him bowl to a plan at a crucial period of the match, Moeen and Root having put on 101 for the fifth wicket.

Sharma had already helped dismantle England's top order on Sunday, seeing off Alastair Cook and Ian Bell within the space of two runs, and his second period of inspiration handed them just their sixth Test victory in England.

"He is someone who works really hard on his bowling, really hard on his fitness. He is not shy of bowling long spells," Dhoni said.

"Whenever you ask him to bowl, whatever the situation, he gives us more than 100 per cent every time.

"So there is no reason why he should not test this line.

"With the kind of height he has he can exploit the bounce a bit more and put pressure on the batsman.

"This is definitely something he can add to his armoury."

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