'Pat Cummins wanted me to be attacking and aggressive… that suited my batting': Abhishek Sharma | Crickit
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'Pat Cummins wanted me to be attacking and aggressive… that suited my batting': Abhishek Sharma

May 31, 2024 03:50 PM IST

Abhishek Sharma opened up on his red-hot form in the IPL, his national team dreams, Yuvraj Singh's support and his rapport with India star Shubman Gill.

Abhishek Sharma finished with neither the Orange Cap nor with the winner's trophy in IPL 2024 but in terms of sheer impact, he should have been somewhere near the top. The Amritsar lad, who turned out for SRH, scored 484 runs at a strike-rate of 204.22 this season and that should be more than enough to make the national selectors sit up and take notice.

Sunrisers Hyderabad all-rounder Abhishek Sharma celebrates with Pat Cummins(PTI)
Sunrisers Hyderabad all-rounder Abhishek Sharma celebrates with Pat Cummins(PTI)

The left-handed opener came into the IPL with the disappointment of being dropped for two Ranji Trophy matches by Punjab after helping his state claim their maiden Syed Mustaq Ali T20 Trophy. Abhishek had played a pivotal role in Punjab lifting the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy scoring 485 runs in ten innings at a strike rate of 192.46.

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Just after the IPL season came to an end, the 23-year-old allrounder spoke to HT about his red-hot form in the IPL, his national team dreams, Yuvraj Singh's support and his rapport with India star Gill.

Excerpts

How would you describe this IPL season?

The IPL 2024 was the best one for me till now. I put in a lot of hard work in the prior domestic season and gained confidence. The confidence I gained while playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy for Punjab helped me set goals and perform well. Also, we reached the IPL final and thoroughly enjoyed playing my shots in the tournament. The Icing on the cake would have been if we had beaten KKR in the final to lift the trophy.

How did captain Pat Cummins and the SRH management contribute in getting the best out of you in IPL?

From the start of the tournament, the SRH captain Pat Cummins and the management were clear that they wanted an aggressive and attacking approach from the team. The message was clear that SRH had to dominate in every game. This approach suited me and I could go out there and express myself in the middle. I like to dominate when I am batting and that's what I did.

SRH finished runners-up in the IPL and the final turned out to be a one-sided affair. What led to the SRH batting collapse?

It would have been great to lift the trophy. Travis Head and I had been batting well as a pair for SRH in previous matches and fortunately giving good starts as well. I think when both of us got out in initial overs to some outstanding bowling from Mitchel Starc and others, the other batters could not put together long partnerships. KKR bowlers bowled amazing balls to get the SRH top-order out. After the top-order collapsed, things fell apart and could not be controlled.

Two seasons ago, you were captain of Punjab. Did it deter or discourage you when you were removed from captaincy? How did you take it?

I was really grateful to get the Punjab team's captaincy. These are the things for which we strive to do our best. It helped me grow as a cricketer, take responsibility and also make sure to contribute for the team. I made an effort to create an environment in the team where all could express themselves freely on the ground. I was happy that season as we had qualified for the Ranji Trophy QFs after a gap of 4-5 seasons. When I was removed from the captaincy I did not take it to heart and just marched ahead with a sole aim of doing well for my team.

You have given a lot of credit to former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh for how he helped shape up your career. Can you throw some light on how he pushed you when things were not working out for you?

Yuvi paaji deserves all the credit for believing in me when the chips were down and I was confident. He told me that I had the potential and the calibre to excel at the highest level and how important it is to keep working hard on skills and fitness. I took it very seriously and just worked on those aspects. Now I understand that a time comes for every cricketer when he unleashes his best form. And one has to keep consistency and momentum in practice and training.

After the IPL, there is a lot of talk going on that you are knocking the doors of the Indian team. How do you react to this?

Giving good performances is definitely in my hands. Giving my best and focusing on this is in my control. Previously also, I have had a feeling that I could make it to the India team but it did not happen. So, I realised the more we think about it, the more we put ourselves under pressure. If that happens and I get selected in the Indian team, my dream would come true.

What is your rapport with Shubman Gill? Do you talk regularly either about cricket or old days? How do you rate him as a cricketer?

We have that close connection and bond since our U-12 days. Whenever we meet up or bump into each other during games, we chit-chat about things other than cricket. I am very proud of his achievements. I have seen him toil hard for where he is now. We keep in touch and talk regularly and he is also very positive about my game. Shubman is always there to help me sort out things if I am confused.

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