The dearth of leg-spinners has always troubled India ever since the legendary Anil Kumble retired in 2008. Amit Mishra had limited success. The selectors have now pinned their hopes on promising leg-spinner Rahul Sharma.
Kris Srikkanth & Co opted to give Sharma an opportunity rather than going for more experienced spinners like Piyush Chawla, Mishra and Pragyan Ojha when they announced the squad for the first two ODIs against England in Chennai yesterday.
However, the lanky Punjab spinner isn't bothered about people's expectations. "I am not thinking about taking Anil Kumble's place in the team. Many senior players and coaches have also told me to do the same thing.
"My aim is to capitalise on the opportunity given to me. I don't want to make big statements. I have fulfilled my first dream of getting the national call-up. Now, my next goal is to don the India cap and do well for the country," Sharma told MiD DAY from Jaipur where he is set to play in the Irani Cup tie.
In the reckoning
Sharma has been in the reckoning since his stupendous performance in the last Indian Premier League (IPL). The spotlight was immediately on him when he dismissed Mumbai Indians skipper Sachin Tendulkar for Pune Warriors at the Wankhede Stadium.
He literally stood out when he returned figures of 2 for 7 in a losing cause though during their return fixture at the DY Patil Stadium in Nerul. Sharma ended up being the best bowler for Pune Warriors, picking up 16 wickets in 14 games at an economy rate of 5.46.
But the news of his India call-up took Sharma by surprise. "I was shocked. I didn't expect it to come. It was unbelievable when Parthiv Patel disclosed the news to me," said Sharma, who is looking forward for some tips from his IPL team skipper and mentor Yuvraj Singh.