Doing good against Virat and Gayle is special; they are legends: Sandeep Sharma
Cricket and life don't always have a merry way to greet its most adored son. But, unfortunately, both cricket and life also have one more thing; they teach lessons the hard way around.
Sandeep Sharma with former SRH captain Kane Williamson
Sandeep Sharma, who has been the only player to take VK, ABD and Gayle's wickets in a single IPL game, wasn't picked by any franchise in the recent mini-auction. However, even after the blow, Sandeep knows how to tackle such situations.
In an interview with Bhawana Jarwal for OneCricket, he humbly says he's motivated and will continue to put all his energies in for his state team - Chandigarh.
Alongside this, Sandeep shares his childhood stories, how he deals with pressure in a high-octane match, and how IPL changed his life.
Here are the excerpts:
You are one of the most successful pacers in the IPL. However, IPL Auction didn’t go well. How are you feeling about it one week after the auction?
Obviously, this auction didn’t go as expected; I was shocked. I was not expecting this (not getting picked), even 1 per cent. But as you know, the way I have performed in the IPL and domestics, I was expecting somebody to bid for me. But that didn’t happen. So it’s obviously shocking and very disappointing. At the same time, I cannot understand why this happened, and I am trying to cope with it. I am still trying to digest it.
You took Virat Kohli’s wicket the most number of times in IPL. You have been very successful against players like Chris Gayle as well. So who do you think has been your favourite among these?
Sandeep with his teammates from Punjab Kings
Doing good against players like Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle is absolutely special. They are the legends of the game, and bowling to them has been a thing of honour to me. Doing well against them will always be special for me. I think against Kohli; I have been lucky to get him out so many times. When you get players like Kohli and Gayle got, your confidence goes on the rooftop; I feel blessed to do so well against them. I have always enjoyed playing with these guys, as they are the best in the business.
When we mention Lasith Malinga, DJ Bravo or Bhuvneshwar Kumar, we must take your name. So how does it feel being compared to those legends of the game?
There is no comparison between these legends and me. Everyone has their strengths and their methods of performing. I have always been lucky and fortunate enough to play in this league and perform. I am very blessed that people take my name in the same sentence when they mention these legends.
Cricket, especially the IPL, has given you a lot, but it has also taken an enormous toll on you. So how do you look at it as a non-selection hampers a cricketer’s confidence?
I have played in the IPL for 10 good years now, and I can tell you that it takes a lot on your body. But at the same time, I enjoy this sport, which is why I work hard throughout the year. Cricket is my passion, and even after this (not getting bought), I will work harder because this sport is my passion. So I will keep doing well in whichever team I play.
Recently, you talked about a game from 2016 where you took Virat, AB de Villiers and Gayle up front in Chinnaswamy. It must have been a hard nut to crack, but we have you doing such stunts many times. So how does Sandeep Sharma do that and stay so humble about that?
Actually, when I was sleeping the day before when I took their wickets, I felt that I could take three of them. I visualised that, and that happened. It is really special as I am the only one to do so. I still have got that ball at my home. It was good to win that game for my team, Kings XI Punjab. It always feels great to do such things for your team. So, it was a special moment and a special match for me.
SRH from 2018-21 or KXIP from 2013-17. Which time has Sandeep enjoyed the most?
Obviously, I started with the Punjab franchise, and it will always be special to me because I started my IPL career with him. Interestingly, my debut was against Hyderabad only. With Punjab, I got so many opportunities, did so well and played for India as well. So, this franchise will always be special to me. But I would say I grew a lot during my time with the Sunrisers. Before SRH, I was just a one-dimensional bowler; I used to bowl two-three overs upfront with the new ball and one over in the death - I kept doing that for 6-7 years in domestics as well. But when I went to SRH, Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) was there, and I didn’t get the opportunity to bowl with the new ball. So I had to bowl after the powerplay and develop new skills. I learnt bowling knuckleballs and slower bouncers. After playing for 3-4 years for them, I got out of my comfort zone, which gave me confidence that I could bowl anywhere. That growth happened with the Hyderabad franchise.
Your bowling style resembles a lot to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and you have played a lot with him. You have shared dressing rooms with Mitchell Johnson. What are things that you have learned from these three greats?
Sandeep Sharma with Bhuvneshwar, VVS Laxman and Tom Moody
I always look forward to learning from someone like Bhuvi or PK (Praveen Kumar), who are similar kind of bowlers to me. But I felt it was very difficult to learn from Johnson as he’s a totally different type of bowler in comparison to me. But I look at his mindset and how he reacts in pressure situations, and how he calms his nerves when things aren’t going his way. I would say that from Bhuvi, I learned to read the batters and put the right fielders in the position - which is very important with the new ball in T20 cricket.
How does cricket come into your life? As many cricketers say, was cricket your first love, or were you forced into it?
It was instant love. We are four brothers, so I used to play at home with them. Then I started playing in my school, where my coach Munish Bali - who is currently the fielding coach at NCA - pushed me. He looked at me there and called me to the ground in Patiala, where my journey started. Then only he told me that my wrist position was great and I should work hard on it. And after looking at my batting technique, my coach said I don’t have it in me to become a batter (chuckles). Luckily, fast bowling went my way.
What are you expecting from this Ranji season? Do you have any personal goals for this season?
There are no personal goals as such; I have always been like this. I just like giving my heart out for whichever team I play. I always try for my team gets to benefit from my performance. I take one game at a time, so that would be my goal. At this time, I am also focusing on the upcoming (ongoing) game, and that’s how I operate.
Last question before we sum it up, 7-10 years down the line, how do you want the world to remember you when you retire from the sport?
Sandeep in SRH nets in 2020
I want the world and my fellow cricketers to remember me as a nice human being. People calling me a good cricketer or a bad cricketer doesn’t matter to me; I just want to be remembered as a good human being. I just wanted to be deemed as a good fellow.