Jitesh Sharma has shown finesse while doing justice to his role in the Punjab Kings camp - coming down the order and helping the team finish on a high.
In just nine games in the Tata IPL 2022 so far, he hasn't just cemented his position in the team but also become a name fans look forward to when he comes out to bat. It didn’t matter that other big names were there in the team, Sharma simply wanted to come out and deliver.
Recently, Virender Sehwag spoke about including Jitesh Sharma in the team that will fly to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year. In response, the lad from Vidarbha told the PTI, “Grateful that Sehwag sir has said this about me but I can only do what is in my control and selection is certainly not.”
Shot variety - Sharma’s strength
Sharma, a part of the Vidarbha limited overs team since 2014, spoke about what clicked for him in the Tata IPL. “I didn’t expect that I would have a season like this. As a cricketer you can only try to have the right mindset and focus on performance, the rest is uncontrollable. That is what I tried to do,” the wicketkeeper-batter said.
Continuous learning has been his greatest strength. “I have worked hard on this (on his range of strokes). Playing straight is my strength. It is down to preparation again. I also try to learn a new shot every year or learn something new,” said the batter, who used to be an opener until not so long ago.
“While during tournaments I don’t try to do anything different. What I have known all these years I am doing that only. There are minor changes I have made including in my power game, the right posture and having a strong base. This is what our power coach has taught us,” the big-hitter said, referring to coach Julian Wood at the PBKS camp.
He is clear that he does not have a go-to shot. “My favourite shot is a shot which gives me maximum runs. I don’t mind even when I nick one to the boundary. I don’t have a go-to shot but I really like playing the straight drive,” Sharma explained.
The PBKS batter understands the importance of mixing multiple elements of the game. “Every technical batter is a power-hitter. Cricket is a mixture of technique and power. If you can add power to a sound technical game, it can only be good,” he said.
Appreciation from the coach
Pritam Gandhe was Sharma’s domestic cricket coach for the season 2021-2022, who also encouraged him to play down the order. While many called him the “find of the season”, Gandhe was not surprised by the talent show his student put on in PBKS colours.
“He has always been talented. Natural talent is just something else. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to justify it during his early career. But a slight change in mindset has worked wonders. I have just told him that there is a different way to bat and he has taken it on board,” Gandhe told Sportskeeda.
The coach, a domestic cricket stalwalt himself, talks about the change in mindset that he urged Sharma to take. “I have always told him not to pre-meditate his shots. Don’t pre-decide an area where you want to hit; instead, be neutral and hit the ball where it is bowled,” he explained.
“I told him all he needs to remember is where the gaps are and once he does that, he has enough power and talent to keep scoring runs. He has practiced a lot to perfect this method and I am glad it has worked for him,” he said. Sharma showed results when he finished as the player with most sixes in the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
A superb middle-order batter, a player with ample experience up the order too who can fill in some gaps if needed, an excellent finisher, and a safe pair of hands behind the stumps - is Sharma the complete cricketer we’ve been looking for?
Sher Squad, what do you think about Jitesh Sharma? Let us know in the comments below!