It was a 'reversal' of fortunes when Ishant Sharma handed fellow-pacer Mohammed Shami his Test cap at Eden Gardens on Wednesday morning. Shami was replacing a 'senior' quickie whose form took a massive beating during the recent India versus Australia ODI series that Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys won 3-2. Shami was at the fountainhead of India's decisive win in the final ODI at Bangalore. The strapping right-arm seamer took three for 52 in a high-scoring game that India won by 57 runs. In a contest that will be remembered for Rohit Sharma's double century, Shami probably sniffed an opportunity to replace the 'expensive' Ishant at Eden Gardens. His dream came true as his 4 for 71 restricted West Indies to 234 all out.
On Tuesday when the Indian team trained at Eden, Ishant bowled his heart out. He definitely fancied his chance to play in Sachin Tendulkar's 199th and penultimate Test. Skipper Dhoni has always backed the lanky Delhi pacer during troubled times. The new ODI rules have been cruel to bowlers. What with the fielding restrictions and the limited protection available, bowlers have been like lambs for the slaughter. Dhoni has compared his seamers to "bowling machines" where batsmen chose the length of the ball so that they can hone their skills to smash them at will.
In spite of the adverse conditions, Shami proved a point at Bangalore. On a belter, Shami got the better of frontline Aussie batsmen Aaron Finch and Adam Voges. Finch was LBW and Voges was bowled, an indication that the pacer, touching 24, had the ability to deceive batsmen with pace and movement. Wednesday proved to be D-Day for Shami. The Indian team management rewarded him with his Test debut and Ishant was called upon to hand over the coveted cap. While it's a great leveler, cricket can really be cruel. Ishant must have felt the pain to be ousted by a competitor, who deserved to play.