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'Irony that I walk in the team as Bhajji goes out'

Last updated on: September 30, 2011 09:37 IST

'Irony that I walk in the team as Bhajji goes out'

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In the reckoning since his stupendous performance for Pune Warriors in the last IPL, leg spinner Rahul Sharma says it is a "dream come true" to find a place in India's ODI squad for the first two matches against England.

"It is like dream come true for me. It is a reward of my hard work and good performances in IPL and also in domestic cricket over the years," the lanky spinner told reporters on the eve of Rest of India's Irani Trophy match against Rajasthan.

The 24-year-old Sharma shot into prominence after bagging 16 wickets with a miserly economy rate of 5.46 runs, which was the best among bowlers who had played more than five matches.

Also the fact that he battled a career-threatening facial nerve disorder problem made him stand out.

But the Punjab lad is a touch sad with that he won't be able to bowl in tandem with his senior state-mate.

"It is an irony that I walk in the team as Bhajji goes out. I wanted to play with him and bowl in tandem with him," he said.


Image: Rahul Sharma
Photographs: Reuben NV
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'I want to consolidate my position with some good performances'

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Rahul was quick to acknowledge Harbhajan's influence on his career.

"I hail from Jalandhar in Punjab and Bhajji has been great help to me. I see this opportunity as a new challenge and I wish to give my hundred percent because that's what matters the most," he said.

He felt a good show against England will enhance his chances of making it to the national team that will tour Down Under at the end of this year.

"I too had to struggle like all others to reach this point, and also had to recover from a back injury [he missed the Emerging Tour]. The Indian team leaves for Australia in near future and I want to consolidate my position with some good performances," the youngster said.

Sharma did admit that Twenty20 makes spinners a bit more defensive trying to stem the flow of runs, but claimed he has a few tricks up his sleeve after working on suggestions from the legendary Anil Kumble.


Image: Rahul Sharma

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'Kumble has helped me add a few tricks in my armoury'

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"Yes, the IPL tends to make spinners a bit defensive, but I try to be as accurate as possible. Anil Kumble has also insisted that I maintain my accuracy. I feel accuracy, use of the crease and the bounce which I am able to extract is the biggest strength of my bowling," the six feet four inch tall leggie stated.

"Kumble is my idol. He has often helped me and I have been successful in adding a few new tricks in my armoury with his help in the nets," he said.

Rahul has had the rare distinction of dismissing Sachin Tendulkar twice in the last edition of IPL and that is one memory he savours.

"I was able to get his wicket twice in IPL but I had to focus hard while bowling to him because he is technically the best. Dravid and Sachin are great players and I don't think I have reached a level where I am eligible to talk about their greatness," he said, with all humility.


Image: Rahul Sharma

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