Karn Sharma says that he is a different bowler and bowls googly and flippers © Getty Images
Karn Sharma says that he is a different bowler and bowls googly and flippers © Getty Images

Karn Sharma, a bright leg spin option for India says that he has come a long way from working at the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He has now become one of Team India’s future prospects. Karn had not performed well when he made his debut against Australia in 2014. He is waiting to get a call from the national side as of now. He thinks that he cannot do much about not getting selected. This is because nothing is in his hands; all he can do is to work hard to get selected in the national side and finally cement his place in the Indian team. READ: Karn Sharma takes three crucial wickets against Australia A in Chennai

In an interview with indianexpress.com he said, “From been ignored by my state Uttar Pradesh to becoming a class IV employee at DLW in Varanasi, many had doubted my abilities. But my family says that hard work always pays off. I am more than happy that I have come this far in my career.” Answering a question on how leg spin happened to him he phonated, “I always liked Shane Warne, he is the reason I chose to become a leg-spinner. In 2000 I was selected for UP’s under-14 team. I took six wickets in two games and scored some runs as well. Despite that, I was never picked again. In the trials I bowled better than the others, but I didn’t see my name anywhere. So, nowadays whenever I play against UP, I try to do well.” ALSO READ: Karn Sharma: I take both batting and bowling seriously

He says that joining Railways wasn’t a hasty decision on his part. He added that his coach had told him that joining Railways will help him in having a backup option. “But the first two years at DLW Varanasi were the toughest. I used to start my day at 6am with practice and by 9am I had to be in office. You know what all a class IV employee has to do. Sab loha uthana padta tha [had to lift iron]. At lunch time I used to be at the ground again for training and would return to office after that.”

Karn said that at one point of time in his life he had seriously contemplated to leave cricket. He reckoned that his parents came to his help during tough times and said that ‘nothing comes easy.’ He further said, “If any officer said I should be allowed to practice, it used to hurt many egos and as a result, they would burden me with more work. Luckily, I was later transferred to another department, where I met officer M Singh. He assured me that I’ll get half-day off only if I promise him that I would go on and play for India. I made that promise and look where we are today…”

On the question that how does Uttar Pradesh manages to produce Test cricketers although not having a good underpinning and footing in place he answered, “The boys there are hungrier for success and there is little else to fall back on. I was very fat earlier but at DLW we had a ground where I used to bowl for hours. There were some who taunted me, saying that I did that just to impress the boss, but I was never bothered. Be it 45 degrees or 12, I never stopped practice.” ALSO READ: Karn Sharma can be India’s trump card in Australia

In the conversation he said that he still remembers his first season where the team slept in a train carriage. This was in Bilaspur. “I have travelled in unreserved compartment. There were no physios, no trainers… sab Ram bharose [God’s will]. We just went there and played. Even in Ranji Trophy games we used to stay in dormitories, but I have no complaints. Whatever I’m today is because of the Railways.”

“I was picked for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009 when IPL was held in South Africa. It was hard to cope up initially. One day, you are just another local player and the next you are playing with the likes of Anil bhai [Anil Kumble], KP, Dale Steyn and others. I played one game where I didn’t bowl but I used to see how Anil bhai bowled. For a leg-spinner, it’s important to pitch the ball at the right spot and Anil bhai did that perfectly.”

Karn says that when he was playing for Railways the side already had good spinners like Murali Kartik and Kulamani Parida. Hence, he played more as a batsman than as a legspinner. So the 27-year old bowler had a faint chance to fit into the team as a spinner. Around one and a half years back in 2013 he scalped 40 wickets and made more than 400 runs and this served as the catalyst for change.

When compared with Amit Mishra he said, “I’m different. I can’t bowl slow like others. I’m not Amit bhai, who gives more flight, but I can bowl googly, flippers, etc. Leg-spin is not easy. In my first season in IPL I bowled a bit slow, which was picked by many. As I gained experience, I began to bowl with more speed and started to use the bowling crease properly. Amit bhai has too much experience and I am just a few seasons old. Spinners progress very late. I just hope that by the time I bid farewell to the game, people remember me as one of the best spinners in the country.”

Karn said that there was certainly a lot of pressure on him in his debut Test in Australia. “I didn’t slept the whole night before that Test. I never thought that my first Test would go this way. The way they attacked my bowling shocked me. Probably the pressure of being the lone spinner in the team affected me. I saw the videos later. I went round the wicket too, but it was too late. If I get another chance, I will be better prepared for it,” he concluded.