The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 9 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sharma is on song, North in command

Chennai: Pacer Ishant Sharma tore through the batting of the West Zone to put North in the driving seat on the penultimate day of the Duleep Trophy quarter final, here, on Monday.

Sharma scalped four wickets for 29 from 17 overs to help skittle out West for 164 in reply to North’s imposing first-innings total of 484 on the third day. North, assured of advancing into the semi-finals on the basis of first innings honours, did not enforce the follow-on and were 30 for no loss at close, taking their overall lead to 350.

The spotlight, however, was on nippy Ishant, playing in only his second first-class game since undergoing an ankle surgery in March. The Delhi bowler is taking the domestic route to test his form and fitness, and looked pretty much ready for his possible international comeback during next month’s home Test series against England.

The 24-year-old was on fire as he took a wicket in each of his first three short spells on Monday that effectively shut the door on West, which resumed at six for one. Ishant, who dismissed Ajinkya Rahane overnight, struck with his first delivery of the day when he forced Kaustubh Pawar to play-on.

And after pacer Rishi Dhawan dismissed nightwatchman Murtuja Vahora, Ishant, who played in the Irani Cup match in Bangalore last month, returned for his second spell in which he sent back India Test No. 3 and West’s batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara leg-before with his third delivery to leave the opposition struggling at 40 for four.

Ishant operated at full clip after changing ends. In-form Pujara left alone the first delivery aimed outside off-stump, defended the next in front of the wicket and was castled by the next that cut back.