Kings XI pacer Sandeep Sharma credits coaches for helping him hone this skill that's paying dividends
Sandeep Sharma could easily be missed in a crowd. He isn't exactly the kind of structure that would catch your eye. Unless you are an IPL fan.
Kings XI Punjab's Sandeep Sharma celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli in Dubai recently. PTI Photo/BCCI
He has been a revelation in the seventh edition of the tournament, having made a mark at the top of the innings with nine wickets from four matches so far, including Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel and Gautam Gambhir.
'I am not a born talent'
The 20-year-old Punjab medium-pacer knows his limitations, but also knows they aren't insurmountable. "I am not a born talent as far as pace bowling goes," the youngster admitted ahead of the clash against Chennai Super Kings in Cuttack today.
"But I also believe that a strong physique isn't always necessary to become a fast bowler. You need to know your limits and work around them to be successful.
"I have sensed changes in myself. Last year, I was bowling at about 120-plus, while my speed has increased to close to 140-plus this year. As I grow and my muscle mass increases, I am sure my speed will increase," he said.
His weapon is swing. "My coaches always tell me that irrespective of how good a batsman is, he always struggles against swing. Swing is my strength. Doesn't mean that you can't be fast and still swing the ball. Look at Dale Steyn."
That is where the difference is in bowling to Gayle and Kieron Pollard. "Swing with the new ball can be an issue with Gayle, while for Pollard, you need to get the variation into action, as the ball is old — yorkers, slower ones, stuff like that."
Purple cap not a priority
The IPL has been good for Sandeep, but the colour of the cap he wears isn't a priority. "I watched IPL for five years and have been playing it for two. My wish always was to do well in this tournament and I am enjoying that. The purple cap will come if I perform."
So how would he like to bowl to the maverick in his own team, Glenn Maxwell? "He is in our team now, so I don't have to," Sandeep said with a laugh. "But if I have to bowl to him ever, then I will tell you how,"
> Openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith gave CSK the perfect start by putting on 123 in 12.4 overs. The lusty hitting from MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo towards the end meant CSK ended with an impending 205-4
> Cheteshwar Pujara, Virender Sehwag and Akshar Patel failed for Kings XI Punjab as they were 52-3 in the sixth over
> Maxwell (95) made most of Ashish Nehra's drop on 37 at short third man. There was no looking back thereafter.
Playing almost every shot of the coaching manual, Maxwell added 115 runs with David Miller off just 63 balls. KXIP overhauled CSK's total with seven balls to spare