The 2014 season started with a bang for the young medium pacer Sandeep Sharma. The 22-year-old youngster was among wickets in every format he played and emerged as the find of the season taking 18 wickets for Kings XI Punjab with the new ball.
Then came the stress fracture injury, forcing the bowler out of Duleep Trophy, Champions League and more importantly India 'A' tour to Australia. So, his selection for India's low-key tour for Zimbabwe on Monday, in a way brought much needed solace to the young pacer.
Tenacity has been the hallmark of the bowler ever since he started playing cricket. After recuperating in NCA, Sandeep came back stronger and wiser. Turning up the heat, the bowler took 28 wickets for Punjab in Ranji Trophy and was the highest wicket-taker in Vijay Hazare.
As a teenager, he wanted to be a batsman until his coach convinced him to make a switch to bowling seeing the amount of swing he was able to generate. Not having the built or the height, a hallmark of a fast bowler, Sandeep, bowling at 130-135km/h, has effectively focused on line, length and swing to take wickets.
"The rehab at NCA taught me a lot about my body and its limitations. The injury made me wiser. I understood that I can't take my body for granted. I changed my diet and fitness schedules. Along the way, the advice of seniors Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag helped a lot. Interactions with Mitchell Johnson brought more clarity in my bowling," an elated Sandeep said.
Sandeep said the feeling of getting picked for India is yet to sink in, but mentally he feels prepared for his first international outing.
"The emergence of IPL and playing along international players has given every domestic player enough insight into what needs to done while playing in the top flight. 'Bhajji bhai' will be there along with me on the tour and I am looking forward to donning India colours," Sandeep said.