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On the long road back to Test cricket, Karn Sharma makes best of the chances

Almost three years since a dreadful Test debut for Indian cricket team in Adelaide against Australia cricket team, Karn Sharma has been virtually sidelined from the national side

cricket Updated: Oct 18, 2017 10:10 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Karn Sharma (C), who played for the Board President’s XI, celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand cricket team captain Kane Williamson during the warm-up match at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Karn Sharma (C), who played for the Board President’s XI, celebrates after taking the wicket of New Zealand cricket team captain Kane Williamson during the warm-up match at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.(AFP)

Usually, a player remembers every single moment of his first Test; even if he goes on to play another 100 more. While representing the country in any format is an extremely proud feeling, breaking through to the final XI in what’s touted as the pinnacle of cricket is what every player dreams of. For Karn Sharma, however, the case is different. (Board President’s XI vs New Zealand highlights)

Nearly three years since a dreadful debut in Adelaide, Karn has been virtually sidelined from the national side and has never returned to represent India in the longest format. While the debut certainly didn’t go on expected lines, what perhaps hurt his chances more was the scintillating form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Karn bowled 49 overs in that match, picked up four wickets, but went on to concede 238 runs — the highest in the match. Despite Virat Kohli’s centuries in both the innings, India fell short by 48 runs.

“Playing the Adelaide Test (2015) is a thing of the past, recalled Karn. “One learns from the mistakes and I tried to work on my bowling and bring in variety. In the two years, I have changed a lot and spoke to (Narendra) Hirwani sir and other coaches” he added after Board President’s XI won against New Zealand in the visiting side’s first warm-up game on Tuesday.

Although Karn picked up just a single wicket, it was the prized one of captain Kane Williamson, a breakthrough that any side would want to have.

It hasn’t been easy for Karn since the Test against Australia. But like always, he has managed to come back from the fringes. After being overlooked for the India A side that played against New Zealand A last month, as luck would have it, Karn was called up to replace K Gowtham after the latter was dropped because of disciplinary reasons.

His 15 wickets in two Duleep Trophy games also helped his cause. Karn not only featured in the six matches, he picked up 23 wickets to run through the Kiwi A side.

Karn attributes his success to former India spinner Narendra Hirwani.

“My bowling is the same, but there is difference in the mindset,” he said. “I spoke to coaches on how I can be better in international matches and worked on those aspects. I am working with Hiru Sir in NCA and that is helping me. Hirwani Sir spoke about mindset and how to play with the batsman’s mind and that is very important.”

Karn is hopeful of a call-up in future but says he’s not desperate for one.

“I am better prepared and will give my 100 per cent,” he added. “My aim is to play and give performance and if the team wins, that is important. When I go to the ground, I take it as an opportunity rather than a chance.”

Sharma recently switched over to play for Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy after sticking with the Railways team for nearly a decade.