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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Abhishek Sharma Credits IPL for Smooth Transition to National Side After Match-Winning Century

Young Indian cricketer Abhishek Sharma has attributed the Indian Premier League (IPL) for his seamless transition to the national team. Playing just his second T20I, Abhishek dazzled the Harare crowd with a match-winning 46-ball century, helping India level the series against Zimbabwe in the second T20I.

“I think IPL plays a big role in this because as a youngster, as a debutant, we didn’t feel much pressure when we came to represent the country,” Abhishek remarked. “It’s always a great motivation once you are playing for the country. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well in yesterday’s game, but my mindset and intent were the same. I had a word with the other debutants too; we’ve all played cricket together for a long time, since U14 days. I think it’s all about approach in T20, about intent. If I show intent and if it is my day, it usually goes like this.”

Abhishek, who acknowledged former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh’s influence on his game, smashed eight sixes during his blistering knock. “All this is due to the hard work I’ve done,” he said. “Special thanks to my dad who always encouraged me to play lofted shots even when I was a kid. Usually, coaches don’t allow you to play lofted shots much. My dad used to tell me that if you want to play a lofted shot, it should go out of the ground. For me, it’s always been there from my childhood that if I’m confident, I like to express myself.”

The young opener revealed he used Shubman Gill’s bat for the game, a practice he has followed regularly. Both players, hailing from the same state, have grown up playing together since their early days.

“The journey has been very beautiful,” Abhishek reflected. “When we started playing, we were around 10-11 years old, and we have been playing together since U12. The ultimate goal was to represent the country. I have said this before that the first call I got (about selection) was from Shubman; he was very happy.

“I played with his [Shubman’s] bat today, and it went really well; special thanks to him for the bat. This happens from the U12 days; whenever I think it’s a pressure game or it’s a match I should perform, I take his bat. Even in the IPL, I ask for his bat. Even today, it went really well.”

Abhishek admitted the team was disappointed after losing the opening game of the series, especially given the first-choice squad had recently won the T20 World Cup. “Losing a game like that after the country has won a T20 World Cup was disappointing for the players,” he said. “But still, we were all youngsters and have been playing together and against each other since childhood.

“So none of us went into our shells after losing; we were instead all together and thinking about the hard work we put in all those years and how this is the ultimate goal for all of us, so we should enjoy and focus on the next thing. The mindset was to forget what has happened and focus on the next match.”

With the series now tied at 1-1, the third game will be played on July 10 at the same venue.

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