‘Catches win matches’ is a cliched saying, but there’s none other than Ishant Sharma who will agree that the adage is not a bit exaggerated.
Over the years, Indian cricket fans have waited and watched in despair as opposition batsmen have scored runs aplenty against their side. Overall, 52 players have hit over 200 runs in an innings against the side, with 13 players of those mammoth scores coming since the beginning of 2010.
There’s no denying Ishant’s massive contribution on the bowling front in India’s Test success over the last decade. While generally a safe pair of hands, Ishant, unfortunately, had a role to play in three of those knocks, dropping catches of Alastair Cook, Michael Clarke and Brendon McCullum before all three went on to get a big score.
Following the reprieve, all three players, who were incidentally captaining their respective teams, compiled their respective top scores in Test cricket.
Michael Clarke (329* v India, Sydney, 2012)
Ishant grassed a chance off Aussie skipper Clarke when the batsman was on 182 against India at Sydney. Though the player had already done the damage by then with a well-constructed hundred, the wicket could have turned the game with two new batsmen at the crease and the Australian scorecard reading 370-5.
Clarke punched a delivery straight back to Ishant, who failed to hang on to a relatively straightforward catch on his follow-through. The batsman made the most of his second life as he went on to smash an unbeaten 329, helping his team put on a mammoth 659-4 declared. Though India did score 400 in the second innings, they were still well short as they went on to lose by an innings and 68 runs.
Brendon McCullum (302 v India, Wellington, 2014)
A drop that proved to be costlier than the one of Clarke, Ishant let go of another offering in his follow-through when McCullum was on 36. A wicket would have ensured New Zealand slumped to 130-6, but the reprieve meant that the wicketkeeper continued his charge, and went on to score his maiden triple ton in the format.
McCullum, who was a little early on the stroke, saw the ball take a thick outside edge before striking Ishant on the right hand. The drop proved to be costly as New Zealand ended up scoring a massive 680-d declared. From a winning position, India saw the match slip through their fingers (no pun intended), as India only managed to draw despite a strong score in their first innings.
McCullum was dropped by MS Dhoni later on in his innings as well, but was picked up two deliveries later, incidentally off the bowling of Ishant.
Alastair Cook (294 v India, Birmingham, 2011)
The English skipper, too, was dropped by Ishant in his follow-through early on in his innings during India’s dismal 2011 tour. Ishant wasn’t the only one guilty though; there were two other drops, and Cook went on to reach his highest score in the format.
His innings allowed England to score a mammoth 710-7 declared in the only innings they batted. India eventually lost the game by an innings and 242 runs.
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