Sandeep Sharma has neither the physique nor the height of a fast bowler. But he compensates this shortcoming with a shrewd mind and the ability to bowl a nagging line and length.
Drafted in the Kings XI Punjab squad in 2013, Sandeep has cemented his place in the side. He played just four matches that year, picking up eight wickets, but in the subsequent two seasons he came into his own, picking 18 and 13 wickets in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In 2016, he missed the domestic season due to a shoulder injury, but is again among the wickets for Kings XI.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders, the 22-year-old bowled the last over and was instrumental in restricting Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan. KKR were 160 for 2, and coming round the wicket Sandeep used the yorker to great effect and gave away just four runs.
His effort was in vain as KXIP lost by seven runs. Already, he is the side’s best bowler in terms of dot balls. He has 74 from 27 overs, which is second to Mitchell McClenaghan of Mumbai Indians.
Longtime coach Munish Bali, under whom Sandeep started out as a batsman, said even though the pacer is yet to regain rhythm, the experience gained over the years has helped this season.
“Every player is susceptible coming out of injury. He is fully fit but is yet to hit full stride. His shoulder will gain strength and I am sure he will pick more wickets,” said Bali.
Sandeep’s exploits in Ranji Trophy and the IPL earned him a place in the India T20 side which toured Zimbabwe last year and former India pacer Karsan Ghavri thinks despite the lack of pace, the bowler has age on his side to realise his talent.
“I watched him closely as a U-19 bowler in two camps that were held at the BCCI pace bowling academy in PCA. He is not express pace but has great control over swing and line. Pace is not everything and in the end it comes down to wickets,” said Ghavri.