BIRMINGHAM: “I don’t’ want to carry the tag of a so-called good bowler. I want to take wickets.”

This is what a relieved looking Ishant Sharma had to say in Friday’s post-day presser at Edgbaston, following his 5 for 51 in the second innings.

Well, finally Ishant is talking like a senior member of the team. Well, this is third Test tour of England. So, one feels it is high time for the 29-year old to buckle up. Having spent more than a decade in international cricket by this time Ishant should have spearheaded the Indian attack in the red-ball format. Well, at Edgbaston he is doing that, but perhaps because of the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Such a pity for a fast bowler who is playing his 83rd Test!

In 2008, Ishant came into the limelight following that magical spell against Ricky Ponting in the Perth Test. However, as his career progressed, the pacer was tagged as a support bowler, not someone who can run through a batting line-up. With his height Ishant was always expected to hit the short of a good length area to keep the batsmen guessing and built pressure so that one his colleagues can go for the scalp at the other end.

However, by his own admission, Ishant believes, those days are gone. Now he wants to take charge as wants to be recognised as a wicket-taker.

And that’s what he has done exactly in the second innings of the Birmingham Test.

Just when Ishant was handed the ball to bowl in the morning session on Friday, Harbhajan Singh in the Sky Sports commentary box reminded the viewers, how the pacer has failed to live up to his promise. He said, Ishant with so much experience should be winning games for India more consistently.

Well, following the end of Day’s play, I am sure Harbhajan has sent a text message to his former teammate, congratulating him for his latest five-wicket haul.

To be a genuine wicket-taking bowler, one needs to be proactive. Ishant understood that and unlike the first innings, here he straightway the round the wicket line for the English left-handers.

"In the first innings we had planned to bowl to the left-handers from around the wicket. Because to left-handers my ball goes away from them, to start from over the wicket but if the ball is swinging then straight away go around the stumps. In the bowling meeting we spoke and bowling coach told me to straight away come round the stumps because the batsman finds it tough to play from that angle because when my ball starts to swing then it is difficult for left-handed batsmen," Ishant said in the press conference.

The ploy immediately worked for him as Dawid Malan was opened up twice in a row and eventually got out edging to the slip cordon.

Ishant was landing the ball on the seam on a middle stump line and more or less the deliveries were straightening it after pitching. It made life difficult for English batsmen, especially for left-handers. Like Malan, Ben Stokes too had no idea of how to tackle Ishant’s angle and late swing.

With Ishant in full rhythm, even right-handers like Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler found it difficult to adjust to his accuracy in length and line. Both were dismissed by the Delhi boy.

In the initial half of the tour, pace bowlers from sub-continent often struggle to understand what is the right length to bowl with the Duke ball in English conditions. But thanks to his recent county stint with Sussex, Ishant had no issues with adapting. In his 10 matches, he had bowled a total of 158.3 overs with the Duke ball for Sussex: 114.3 overs in the Championship with the red-ball and 44 in the Royal London Cup with the white-ball.

By his own admission, tis county stint helped him immensely to prepare for this series.

Now that he seems in full flow the expectation are quite high from the lanky pacer. He is expected to lead the Indian seam attack for the rest of the series as well and with uncertainty surrounding the availability of Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah, this is an ideal opportunity for Ishant to show his maturity as a cricketer and project himself as an attacking option with the red cherry.