Elated Karn Sharma reflects on 'huge season'

The 30-year old leg-spinner has managed to achieve what has eluded the best and biggest names in cricket and is currently catching up on a long-awaited break from the game.

Karn Sharma..."It was a dream and I am glad that I managed to live it."   -  K. Pichumani

Three titles in as many years with three different teams – if the IPL franchise owners ever decide to follow the Moneyball theory for purchasing players, Karn Sharma would rank pretty high on the shopping list.

The 30-year old leg-spinner has managed to achieve what has eluded the best and biggest names in cricket and is currently catching up on a long-awaited break from the game, having played almost non-stop since the start of the domestic season in September 2017. “The heat here is like a big, harsh welcome back to reality,” he quipped, talking to Sportstar.

However, it fades in the context of what he has managed after being part of the Chennai Super Kings this season. “This isn't something you can think about. I don't think anyone can explain this feeling. Players fight hard to win one local tournament, so to win three consecutive titles in such a big event, to do it with a good performance and coming as it does after winning the Ranji Trophy (with Vidarbha), it's been a huge season,” he agreed.

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Having got to know he would be playing on the morning of the final, Sharma said that he was prepared.

“The format of IPL is such that even the best have to sometimes sit out because of team combinations. I wasn't playing, but I also knew that IPL is the kind of platform where you are never out of contention unless you are injured. That said, playing the final is a special feeling. Winning a tournament as a member of the squad and as part of the playing XI are completely different, it gives a different high. It was a dream and I am glad that I managed to live it, hopefully, it will continue both for me and for the teams,” he smiled.

Prize scalp

He did not have much to contribute for his first title in 2016 with Sunrisers Hyderabad, going wicket-less in five matches. 2017 was a contrast with Mumbai Indians, finishing with 13 wickets including a four for 16 against KKR in the second qualifier. 2018, again, he played just six games for four wickets, but that included the final and the prize scalp of Kane Williamson.

“A lot of runs had been scored in the two overs before mine and I had a feeling that he would try to go for a big hit on the first ball because he always tries to put the bowler under pressure from the start. I tried to draw him out and it worked – it was a big wicket for me, for the team, and in the game,” he explained.

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Sharing the dressing room with M. S. Dhoni was the icing on the cake. “He's the coolest out there. All he cares about is that you give your 100 percent on the ground. He told me that it was normal to be frustrated when you don't get a chance to play, but must grab whatever chances I get.”

“Also, our games shifting out affected the team compositions. I might have played a lot more games if we had had all our home games in Chennai because the team had also been selected keeping the conditions there in mind. Pune was a completely different pitch, conditions, everything.”

“Nevertheless, Dhoni knows how to get the best performance from every player at the right time. If you have a bad day in the field, he will not push you too much, but if you are doing good, he will back you till the hilt. It's all about handling the players so that both the individual and the team morale stays high, and he's the best at it,” Sharma said.