With the series and a spot in the final of the World Test Championship on the line, Ishant Sharma is all charged up for his 100th Test match. The third Test between India and England, a day-night affair, will see the lanky pacer become only the second India pacer ever to play 100 games in the grueling longest format of the game.
Given the demanding life of a pace bowler, there are hundred reasons to celebrate and cherish reaching this milestone. Sharma’s mind though is taken over by the massive responsibility on his shoulders as the most experienced pace bowler in the side. India has to beat England 2-1 or 3-1 to clinch a place in the final of ICC’s inaugural World Test Championship. As he plays only the longer format of the game now, WTC has extra importance.
“At the moment, the next target is to win the next game. I just want to win the next game and (help India) qualify for the Test championship final. As I always say I have only one format to play and the World Test Championship is like a World Cup for me. If we reach the final and win this, I think I will have the same feeling like you play the ICC World Cup final or the Champions Trophy,” he said in a media interaction on Monday.
The teams go into the Ahmedabad game starting on Wednesday tied 1-1. Usually at home getting a result is not a tough ask for this strong Indian side backed by its spin strength. But the degree of difficulty is more this time because pace bowlers are expected to be the lead performers with the pink ball. England has a lethal pace attack. How Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah match Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad could be a decisive factor.
Hundred is thus only a number for the 32-year-old speedster. His determination to win could be made out in the way he spoke at the media conference. The tone was measured; there was no hint of extra excitement of being on the cusp of a special achievement in his career.