Punjab’s young lad Sandeep Sharma has caught everyone’s eyes with his performances at the domestic level and his IPL performances have only increased his reputation as a bowler. He has the ability to swing the new ball both ways and also bowl those lethal Yorkers at the back end which makes him difficult to score against. So when he got selected for the Indian Senior team to tour Zimbabwe, he call didn’t come as a surprise to him. “It didn’t come as a surprise for me, in fact I was expecting a call,” he said.
“I performed well in Indian Premier League (IPL) this year and my last Ranji season was also pretty good. I have also been pretty consistent for the last three to four years in domestic cricket. With a long season coming up for the Indian team, I felt I could be selected anytime. I hope now, I get a fair run in the national team,” Sandeep added.
Sandeep finished as the highest wicket taker for Punjab this season taking 28 scalps. He was also hands down KXIP’s best bowler taking 13 wickets from 14 matches in this edition of IPL. Sandeep has worked on his pace and has had a noticeable increase which just makes him more potent as a bowler.
“I worked on it (increasing pace) during the off season, last year. Developing my pace further is a priority. Over the last couple of years, I have managed to raise my speed from mid 120s to the mid 130s [kph]. I am 22 right now, my bones and muscles will be stronger in a couple of years. I have been following the schedule prepared by the trainer and have also started following a nutritionist’s programme,” Sandeep said.
He added that by observing Dale Steyn he has learnt to crank up the pace a bit more when the ball gets older and stops swinging. “When he (Steyn) operates with the new ball, he bowls around 135-137 and as it gets older he picks up speed. It is with the old ball that I look to get extra yards because the ball doesn’t swing and one has to get the yorkers and bouncers right at that stage.”
Sandeep Sharma first burst onto the scene as a 17 year old who made it to India’s squad for the U-19 World Cup in 2010. Two years later, he finished India’s victorious under-19 World Cup campaign as his team’s joint highest wicket-taker. In between, he made his first-class debut for Punjab, in November 2011.
He took 41 wickets in the 2012-13 season of the Ranji Trophy and followed it up with 36 in the last season which only shows the consistency with which he has bowled. This is a great opportunity for him to make a mark at the international level and give the selectors a sweet headache.