Winning Ranji Trophy the ultimate goal for Assam star Gokul Sharma

Going forward, Gokul believes Assam should start its pre-season early and play more games leading up to the season.

Published : Jan 14, 2023 22:37 IST , Guwahati

Gokul Sharma at the Amingaon Cricket Ground on Friday.
Gokul Sharma at the Amingaon Cricket Ground on Friday. | Photo Credit: Shayan Acharya

Gokul Sharma at the Amingaon Cricket Ground on Friday. | Photo Credit: Shayan Acharya

When Gokul Sharma made his First Class debut for Assam back in 2004, he wouldn’t have imagined he would go on to play for the State for nearly two decades.

Those were the days when outstation guest players would often be preferred, and for youngsters like Gokul, it was crucial to make the rare opportunities count. But then, the batting all-rounder stood his ground and despite not being a regular in the playing eleven, he never lost hope and went on to play 82 First Class and 65 List A games for Assam and East Zone.

“Earlier, the players would come from other states and our boys would get fewer opportunities. And even if we got chances, we would have to bat lower down the order at No. 6 or No.7. But there’s no denying the fact that we learned a lot from the outstation players,” Gokul told  Sportstar.

Back then, the likes of Amol Muzumdar and Dheeraj Jadhav would play for Assam, and Gokul and his contemporaries being youngsters, would pick their brains. “Since we could share the dressing room with Amol  bhai and other noted players, we learned a lot for sure, but then, things have changed now.”

Over the last few years, the Assam Cricket Association has done away with its guest player policy and that certainly has opened up more opportunities for home-grown talents.

“Each and every player has to take more responsibility now. Initially, it was a challenge to cope with the situation without any outstation professional players, but slowly things have improved. We have started beating big teams and that has boosted our morale,” Gokul said.

“We are slowly developing that winning mindset that we are capable of beating any team. We had close games in most of Ranji Trophy games this season.”

However, on Friday, Assam suffered a huge defeat by an innings and 128 runs - its first loss in the tournament - against Mumbai in a crucial Ranji Trophy Elite Group B clash. Gokul, though, shone with scores of 70 and 82 against the strong bowling line-up.

In the absence of Kunal Saikia, Gokul was the stand-in captain. While his gritty knock in the first innings guided Assam 370 in pursuit of Mumbai’s mammoth 687 for four, his knock in the second essay showed his character. Coming in at a time, when Assam was reeling at 17 for five, after being enforced a follow-on, Gokul fought a lone battle. 

“Throughout the game, the wicket was very good for batting. It was not helping bowlers at all. So, better application was needed from our batters, but that did not happen in the second innings,” Gokul said.

The seasoned campaigner believes that players came under pressure after being enforced a follow-on, but then, he does not want to put that as an excuse.

“It happens when you are asked to follow-on. But then, we need to play according to the situation.”

While there was a pall of gloom in the Assam dressing room after the defeat against Mumbai, Gokul had a chat with his players, advising them to shrug off the disappointment and look forward. 

“I told them that we cannot expect to win all the seven games, but we need to look at the positives and improve our game. We have two games remaining and it is important that we start thinking about those two and planning accordingly.”

Assam will play Tamil Nadu next. “Now it is important to move ahead. We all know that we could have done better against Mumbai, but it’s okay. We need to show character and look ahead.”

In this season, Gokul scored a century against Delhi and then had two crucial knocks against Mumbai. The 37-year-old wants to keep the momentum going and his target is to win the Ranji Trophy title before hanging up his boots. He quit from limited-overs format last year and wants to keep things simple. 

“At times, players take things easy but for me, playing for Assam is a huge deal. As big as playing for India. I want to play with the same sort of seriousness and deliver for my State,” Gokul said.

Though he is nearing 40, Gokul hasn’t thought of hanging up his boots just yet. He wants to bow out by winning a Ranji Trophy title for Assam. “I want to take one step at a time and obviously, being someone who has played first-class cricket for years, the ultimately goal is to win a Ranji Trophy for Assam,” he said.

Going forward, Gokul believes the team should start its pre-season early and play more games leading up to the season. “We have quite a few challenges in terms of weather and other issues, so it often delays our preparation. But going forward, we need to play more pre-season games and tournaments - individually and as a team - to get into the groove when the season begins. That will help us,” Gokul said.

A soft-spoken, serious cricketer, Gokul is highly respected by his teammates and even the junior crop of Assam cricket looks up to him. Having served the team for 19 long years, Gokul wants to turn his dreams of winning the Ranji Trophy title into reality before calling it a day. 

The road, Gokul knows, is uphill, but the journey is worth it.

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment