Pune leg-spinner Rahul Sharma keen to don the blue jersey

Sharma gave away just seven runs in his four overs while playing against Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians AFP

By Sanjay Ganjoo

Chandigarh: May 7, 2011

After grabbing eye balls with his stupendous show in the Indian Premier League, Pune Warriors leg-spinner Rahul Sharma is keen to get into that “blue jersey” and perform for country at the international stage.

Sharma has been a revelation in the IPL as he emerged as the most economical bowler and earned praised from one of the greatest batsmen of the game –Sachin Tendulkar.

Sharma gave away just seven runs in his four overs while playing against Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians.

“My dream has always been to play for India and wear the blue jersey. Tendulkar told me that I am bowling at my best. It is the best compliment any player can get,” Sharma told PTI.

The 24-year-old said IPL is a great platform for players like him to showcase their skills at a big stage, where young domestic players were able to rub shoulders with established international stars.

“IPL is a boon for young talent. It’s a big tournament happening at huge scale, attracting wide audiences. One who performs will be spotted,” Sharma said.

Pune, led by Yuvraj Singh, will play their next match against Kings XI Punjab at Mohali on Sunday.

He said that he had learnt a lot by playing in the cash-rich league, which would help him in future as well.

He also thanked the owners and the team management for posing faith in him.

“I want to thank (Sahara group chief) Subrata Roy, my captain Yuvraj Singh, (Pune coach) Geoff Marsh.

Praveen Amre have also helped me a lot, especially giving me bowling tips,” said Sharma, who idolises former India leg spinner, Anil Kumble.

Sharma attributed his success to his ability to attack the batsman by making him play all the time.

“If you make the batsman play, you are bound to get wickets and even dot balls,” he said.

Pune, the new entrants, are placed at the bottom of the points table, having lost seven games on a trot from their nine outings but Sharma feels inclusion of former India captain Sourav Ganguly will help the team.

“His presence will definitely help us. As a youngster, it was my dream to play under his (Sourav’s) captaincy.”

Sharma is optimistic about team’s turnaround in the remaining five games.

“I feel we were unlucky. We had a few close games. There are five games to go and we will look to win all of these so that we can get back the momentum. T20 is about getting the momentum,” said Sharma, who overcame some very difficult circumstances his life.

Sharing the ordeal he went through after suffering facial nerve damage last year, Sharma said, “It was a horrific night. I was sleeping and suddenly I woke up to find right side of my face aching. I could not move my jaw and there was pain. The doctor later told me that my facial nerves had burst.”

With his cricketing career at stake, Sharma’s grit and determination helped him fight Bell’s Palsy disorder.

“I still can’t move my right eyebrow properly and am taking treatment from my doctor at Jalandhar. But things are improving now,” he said.