Ishant Sharma has revealed that a call from Kings XI head coach, Virender Sehwag helped him find a place in the Punjab side for the current IPL season. Sharma, who went unsold at the player auction in February, hopes his 10 years of experience in international cricket will help the Punjab bowlers.
Despite not finding a suitor at the 2017 player auction in February, Sharma was signed up by Kings XI Punjab as a last-minute replacement for the injured Murali Vijay. Sharma has now revealed the role that Sehwag played in his inclusion in the Punjab squad.
"I got a call from Viru a couple of days asking me if I was available, and that's how things worked out," Sharma told TOI.
Ishant was let go by Sunrisers Hyderabad after his below par performances in 2016, where he captured only 3 wickets in four matches. However, the 28-year-old believes that he will be able to add valuable experience to the already existing plethora of pace bowlers - Varun Aaron, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan - available at Punjab's disposal.
"After playing for the country for so many years, I can share my experience with the other bowlers in the dressing room. It's all about how you handle yourself in different situations," said Sharma who made his debut for India way back in 2007.
Sharma also acknowledged that he was looking at the possibility of playing county cricket to get some match practice after missing out at the IPL auction and that he was in talks with a few sides before Sehwag had called.
"I hadn't signed a contract but was in talks with a few. In fact, when you don't get a team at IPL auction, you have to play somewhere.”
Sharma was impressive in the recently concluded India-Australia series where he won a lot of plaudits for his performance. The 28-year-old praised the depth of the Indian pace attack stating that competition within the team had forced everyone to raise their games.
"In our side, we have a different type of fast bowlers. Umesh and Shami may be similar, but I am taller and quite different. Bhuvneshwar can swing the ball and all the four of us bring in our own skill set to the team. Earlier, we never thought of who would replace if someone got injured. That's not the case anymore. At the moment, if someone gets injured, there is always someone as a backup which is a great thing," Sharma explained.
Moreover, given that the 28-year old has played only 5 of the 13 matches in India’s home Test season, Sharma is confident that his relative freshness will make the transition from Test matches to T20’s easy.
“As a fast bowler, I feel it's easier to go from a long format (Tests) to T20s. It all boils down to executing your plans and maintaining your fitness levels in T20s."
Sharma’s performances in the IPL may determine whether or not he makes it to the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy that starts following the conclusion of the IPL, the lanky pacer chooses to stay in the present, by saying, "I don't want to look that far ahead at the moment. For me, it is more important to play as many games I can and try to win matches for my team."