Jitesh Sharma opens up on his cricketing career so far
By SMCS - Jan 27, 2023 2:21 pm
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Jitesh Sharma has been added to the India team recently and he shared his cricketing journey with Hindustan Times as well. He revealed how he started playing a finisher’s role in T20s after opening the batting for Vidarbha for seven seasons. However, it was not an easy task for him as well. “Aaj se tu hamara middle-order batsman… (From today, you are our middle-order batsman)…”  said his coach Pritam Gandhe and he took up the challenge. However, he has played 100 first-class matches and has been going strong since then as well.

Jitesh Sharma
Jitesh Sharma took a brilliant catch

“That time our middle-order was not performing that well in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s. Gandhe sir told me, ‘Tu upar jake jo 15-20 ball mein 30 run bana raha hai, wahi niche banayega toh team ke lie aur help hogi.’ I was asked to bat in the middle-order in one of the practice matches,” Jitesh shared. “The Nagpur summers are extremely uncomfortable. You can’t practice after 11 am due to the high temperatures, and humidity. So our practice session used to start at 6 am. But it was difficult to bat in the morning for me as an opener as the pitches used to be damp. I couldn’t hit the ball as cleanly as I would have liked to. One day I swapped positions with the middle-order batters and hit a few sixes.”

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Meanwhile, the move worked for both Jitesh Sharma and Vidarbha. His strike rate increased and the team’s total started to reach 180 from the 160s as well. He smashed back-to-back fifties playing as a finisher. He ended the season with 19 sixes – the most in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s in 2021-22 – in 7 innings and earned an IPL contract from the Punjab Kings as well. He also played at a strike rate of 163 in his first year. However, his 13 sixes in 10 matches made headlines as he earned his maiden India call-up as the replacement of injured Sanju Samson for the remaining two T20Is against Sri Lanka as well.

“…Jitesh Sharma in the T20 format, he has the ability to bat at a very good pace as he’s shown in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the IPL,” said India head coach Rahul Dravid while talking about the pool of wicketkeepers India have. I know my role. The position I bat in, is pretty obvious that I have to play attacking cricket.”

Team India dominated in Raipur

“I always look at growing as a professional, it doesn’t matter whether I get a chance or not. I want to be ready for everything, be it an IPL match, a local match or a Syed Mushtaq Ali game. If I try to think that I have to outdo them (Kishan, Pant, Samson and Rahul) then I might make mistakes. Instead, I focus on consistency. If I do ordinary things regularly, then it will become extraordinary. More than just scoring runs, I want to make a difference in winning and losing. Even if I score 20 runs, those runs should help my team win,” he further added.

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“I create scenarios while practising. In case of early wickets, I give myself 30 balls and a target of 40 runs minimum. But I can’t get out. If I’m out even once during that period then I don’t bat in the session. This helps me to be in a match situation. I focus more on boundaries and rotating the strike. If I come in to bat with say 8 overs remaining I give myself 18 balls to score 30 at least. For that, I target two sixes, the rest can be through singles and a boundary here and there. If I come in to bat with say only 3-4 overs remaining then I target boundaries from ball 1 but don’t attempt to hit a six straightaway. The moment I connect a couple from the middle, then I start aiming for sixes. I always try to maintain a combination of boundaries and sixes. If I only go for sixes then I might miss out on the gaps in the field to get four runs. I go all-out for sixes in the last two overs,” Jitesh Sharma concluded.