Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Ishant Sharma raring to clear final fitness hurdle

Pacer Ishant Sharma, who suffered an injury during the IPL 2020, would look to clear the fitness hurdle during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with the Delhi team.

With India’s pace unit suffering a spate of injuries in Australia, Ishant Sharma’s presence holds key for the series against England, scheduled to start on February 5. (File Photo)   -  GETTY IMAGES

While a host of talent scouts with all the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises will be prepping for the next month’s Player Auction by watching the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy proceedings, the national selectors will be keeping a close eye on Delhi’s matches in the league stage, to be held over the next nine days, starting with a face-off against arch-rival Mumbai on Monday.

After all, the league stage is going to be a sort of final fitness test for Ishant Sharma ahead of India’s forthcoming series against England. The veteran pacer from Delhi has been out of action for a long time, returning midway through the IPL owing to a side strain.

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Despite Ishant having cleared fit by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) along with Rohit Sharma last month, it was decided against including him due to lack of match-practice. As a result, not just the rejigged selection panel, with the recent inclusion of three former India pacers, will be keeping tabs on the action in Mumbai.

Delhi chief coach Rajkumar Sharma was confident Ishant will come good, starting with valuable contribution against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. “He is raring to go. He has been bowling at his best right through we started the preparatory camp. I am sure he will be a big boost to the team, with his bowling and experience,” he told The Hindu on Sunday.

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With India’s pace unit suffering a spate of injuries in Australia, Ishant’s presence holds key for the series against England, scheduled to start on February 5. Add to that the fact that the lanky bowler in just three Tests away from becoming only the second India pacer to earn 100 Test caps and it is understandable Ishant hasn’t been rushed back into action.

Come Monday afternoon, and he will hoping to rush Suryakumar Yadav and Co. into shots with his pace.

Monday’s action: Group E
Mumbai vs Delhi, 12pm, Wankhede
Haryana vs Andhra, 12pm, BKC
Kerala vs Puducherry, 7pm, Wankhede
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