NEW DELHI: A successful Ranji Trophy season eight years ago earned Haryana medium-pacer Mohit Sharma the attention that fast-tracked him first into the IPL and then Team India, both times under talismanic skipper MS Dhoni in 2013. However, in the upcoming IPL season, Sharma’s tight line and length will benefit Delhi Capitals, who would look to pick up from their playoff-stage finish in the last season.
Under Dhoni at the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Sharma repaid his skipper’s faith to hand him the new ball with two blockbuster IPL seasons, capturing 20 and 23 wickets respectively (2013 & 2014). He made his India debut in 2013, and the success story took a fairytale turn when a lucky break earned him a place in the 2015 World Cup after Ishant Sharma got injured. But since his last international appearance — against Australia in an ODI in October 2015, the 31-year-old Sharma seemed to have lost steam and a back injury last year didn’t help his cause.
While CSK served a two-year ban, Sharma moved to Kings XI Punjab, but a below-par stint saw him being released by the Punjab team in 2019, after which CSK bought him back, only to be released again for this year.
But having recovered from a surgery for his back injury and after a longer break than usual from cricket because of the coronavirus-forced halt, Sharma is ready to ply his trade for Delhi Capitals, who bought him for a base price of Rs 50 lakh at the 2020 IPL auction.
Sharma’s renewed push to reclaim his India jersey will begin in the UAE, where the delayed edition of IPL 2020 will be held from September 19 to November 10.
In a chat with Timeofindia.com from the UAE, Sharma shared his thoughts on what lies ahead for him and his team.
(Mohit Sharma/Photo by Delhi Capitals)
How is life in a bio-secure bubble and amid so many restrictions?
It’s been almost two weeks in the bubble. The first week of quarantine was a bit difficult – you couldn’t go anywhere, not even in the room next to you, that was the difficult part. But even in that phase, we were provided with all the exercise equipment (in the hotel room), yoga sessions were going on through video conferencing. So time was well spent, despite it being difficult. Now we are out, getting to play cricket, it’s a nice feeling. On a personal note, I am not the kind of person who goes out a lot. I am getting to play cricket, that’s enough for me.
With a ban on moving out and socialising, how do you keep busy in the UAE when not training?
We are trying to spend as much time with each other. If we are not training, we eat together, spend time around the pool maybe. We don’t have that much area to move around in the hotel, but whatever access we have, we try to spend time together.
Delhi played the playoffs last season after a long gap, but this is going to be a tough and different season in many ways, with no crowd, saliva ban, etc. How is the team approaching the campaign in this changed set-up?
If we keep results aside, the Delhi team has always been very good. I have played in other teams and Delhi was always competitive. Back then, we always used to say that you can never take Delhi lightly. There are a lot of youngsters in the team, and even now why people are saying that Delhi is strong is because we have continued with those youngsters for two years now, so they are settled. The results were not (consistently) in our favour because the process to get desired results is a long one. That could be the reason. But at the moment, the team is looking very strong and the kind of process that’s going on, the amount of hard work we are putting in, the way (Ricky) Ponting is guiding us or the way Ryan Harris is working with the bowlers, I think the results will be in our favour this season.
(Mohit Sharma, left, and Ishant Sharma/Photo by Delhi Capitals)
On a personal note, what has helped you the best to cope with all this and still remain in the best shape both physically and mentally?
For me, it’s very important to keep fresh because I haven’t played cricket for the last 18-20 months. Last year, around June-July, I underwent a back surgery. After that, I haven’t played. I regained full fitness just 2-3 weeks before the (originally scheduled) IPL this year (in March). After that the IPL got postponed and I had to take care of myself even more during the lockdown. So I try to follow my programmes regularly, take care of my diet. A lot of things are getting better for me. My body is feeling very fresh, feeling light, and I am bowling well too. So all the things are on track. Hopefully, favourable results will follow. We are focusing on the process.
There have been hiccups with positive coronavirus cases, which was expected. How have you and the family back home dealt with such news?
I won’t call it a scare, but I take this as motivation. My family is the biggest support, which has taken me to where I am today, and that support is there for me all the time, wherever I go, whether to play for India or for my club.