Perhaps work on his bowling and hope to feature in his state squad for the next season.
But Punjab’s Rahul Sharma, an unorthodox leg-break bowler, is an exception. Not only is he a certainty in his state side, but is also a regular in India squad (for limited overs matches) for almost a year now. His splendid run for the Pune Warriors India in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) catapulted him on to the international stage. That’s what the IPL can do to a player’s fortunes these days.
Ask Sharma about his underachievement on the domestic circuit, and he puts it down to ‘lack of opportunities.’ “I have played eight of my 12 first-class games at Mohali, which is a green top. I have spoken to world-class spinners like Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, and they have agreed that a spinner can’t take too many wickets on that kind of surface.”
And how does he deal with the criticism about his first-class record? “Logon ka kaam hai kehna. Mera kaam hai ek kaan se sunna, aur dusre se nikaalna. (People will keep talking while I listen from one ear and let it out from the other).
Thanks to God
“I have shown my talent and ability in the IPL. The selectors have also seen my talent in IPL and have given me opportunity to play for India. MS (Dhoni) always tells me I am ‘a kind of a bowler who can bowl well at any time’. Thanks to God, and the team management and selectors, I am performing well for India,” Sharma told MiD DAY.
Incidentally, Pune Warriors take on the Kings XI Punjab tomorrow at Mohali, which is Sharma’s home ground. “There will be pressure of playing on my home ground. Last year I played here, that was the first time my parents saw me play in a big game, and I got the Man-of-the-Match award.
“So, hopefully I will do well for my team again there,” the 26-year-old added. Will he keep his impressive Twenty20 record intact? Or will he offer the wicket as an excuse after Thursday’s game? It’s over to Mohali.