Who is Jitesh Sharma? India's surprise pick as Sanju Samson's replacement for Sri Lanka T20Is
After Sanju Samson was ruled out with a knee injury, BCCI named Jitesh Sharma in India's T20I squad. It was a surprising call by BCCI as Jitesh was never speculated to be in the mix but with Rishabh Pant's accident and KL Rahul's unavailability, the Punjab Kings wicketkeeper-batter will join the Indian dressing room.
Having spent a significant amount of time on the bench or either being sidelined in 2022, Sanju Samson hoped for a better 2023, however, that doesn't seem to be the case. The Kerala batter, who was part of India's playing XI against Sri Lanka in the first T20I in Mumbai, failed to fire with the bat and also injured his knee while fielding.
The proceedings at Wankhede also saw Samson survive a mini scare but moments later he was packed for 5 by Dhananjaya de Silva. In the field, Samson started the Lankan innings by making a fielding error as he dropped a simple catch and later hurt his knee while fielding near the boundary ropes.- The BCCI confirmed the development on Wednesday evening and announced Jitesh Sharma as his replacement. It was a surprising call by BCCI as Jitesh was never speculated to be in the mix but with Rishabh Pant's accident and KL Rahul's unavailability, the Punjab Kings wicketkeeper-batter will join the Indian dressing room.
Who is Jitesh Sharma?
Jitesh Sharma made his name while playing for Punjab Kings but he was a part of the Mumbai Indians squad in 2017. He, however, did not get a game. He made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut in the previous edition against Chennai Super Kings, during which he scored a 17-ball 26. The wicketkeeper-batter has so far made 12 appearances for PBKS, in which he accumulated 234 runs from 10 innings, with a 34-ball 44 against Delhi Capitals being his highest score.
He represents Vidarbha in the domestic circuit and has been one of their most consistent performers.
After a solid outing in the 2012-13 Cooch Behar Trophy, Jitesh was added to the Vidarbha senior team. He had scored 537 runs in 12 innings in the Cooch Behar Trophy. He then went to make his T20 debut in March 2014, he would play his first List A match in the same season during the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Sharma was one of Vidarbha's mainstays in limited-over cricket, where he mostly batted in the top order.
The following year was even better for Jitesh as he finished as the third-highest run scorer in the 2015-16 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The right-handed batter then accumulated 343 runs at a healthy strike-rate of over 140, which also included a ton and two half-centuries.
The wicketkeeper was then acquired by IPL heavyweights Mumbai Indians for ₹10 lakh in the IPL 2016 auction. He also made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 2015-16 season but failed to create a lasting impact.
Jitesh's services were later acquired by Punjab Kings in the 2022 mega auction, when the franchise roped him for ₹20 lakh.
Why Jitesh Sharma is an ideal replacement for Samson
In the absence of Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul, India were left with only wicketkeeper-batter - Ishan Kishan - in their current T20I squad. Jitesh can not only don the gloves if needed but is gun batter at no.5 and 6. The 29-year-old has played the role of a finisher quite well for PBKS and also for Vidarbha. Although he did not set the stage alight in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s and the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he is known to be someone who can hit big from ball one.