In an exclusive interview with the Punjab Kings, Sharma opened up about life's pitfalls, the struggle to make an IPL debut and finally getting to bask in the moment in the PBKS jersey.
The youngster from Vidarbha played a useful knock of 26 (17) against CSK in debut, and followed it up with scores 23 (11) and 30* (15) against the Gujarat Titans and the Mumbai Indians respectively, showing his finishing prowess.
What the debut moment meant for him
“The journey of my career has been like the journey of a person trekking a mountain because, till 2017, I felt like I was at the peak of the mountain. It doesn't take too long to fall from there and I had a drop like that in 2017 where I found it very difficult to be in the state team as well,” Sharma revealed.
He recalled trying to keep himself calm and collected, and taking tiny steps to get back on his feet. “After that, I only focused on taking one step at a time and when I played my first game, I recalled everything that day from my past when I was sitting in the dugout. From where I've come, my struggles, all my sacrifices for this moment and all the people who have supported me. I don't want to disappoint anyone, even myself,” the batter said.
The moment of the debut
It is easy to be overwhelmed and star-struck by the icons for a newbie in the Indian Premier League. It was no different for this starry-eyed youngster from Vidarbha, who grew up watching these players on the television. “I gave it my all on the field and I was obviously nervous as I faced my first ball,” he said, recalling the jitters.
“I was pumped because of the crowd. I saw MS Dhoni behind me and Jadeja bowling to me. DJ Bravo was to my left. Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu were all around me, who I've seen on TV but never seen in real life, so I could feel their vibes around me,” he smiles.
“My sacrifices and hard work were always with me, that's why I was very confident and after the moment my bat touched the ball for the first time, everything went back to normal. I was just in the game,” explaining how he batted away the nerves.
The motivation and the support system behind this climb
Sharma’s father has had a great impact on his life. “My father used to play a lot of cricket and take part in tennis tournaments as well and I used to attend many prize distributions with him,” the middle-order batter, who was an opener not too long ago, said.
“He was a businessman but was always emotionally controlled. Whenever he watched cricket, he was emotionally happy and excited. That's when I realised if he could see me play cricket, he would be excited like this. My journey started from there and that's when I thought I could start playing cricket,” he opened up.
His father has been his biggest cheerleader, and that didn’t change during his debut. “After the match, when I saw my father's missed call, I called him back even though I was hesitant to call because he has a strict routine. He usually sleeps by 10 PM, but this time, when I called him around 12:30-1 AM, he was awake,” the excited youngster said.
“He was waiting for me to call back. He was so happy that he just told me, "Well done, beta!" Because when my dad uses only two-three words, I know he's on cloud nine,” he mentioned, with a satisfied smile on his face.
It is only baby steps for this youngster in the IPL, and there really is a lot left to explore. Will he be able to turn this season into one that pushes him into stardom?