Jitesh Sharma said after PBKS’ last league match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2022, Kagiso Rabada walked up to him and said he feels Jitesh Sharma would go on to play for India in the coming years and have a battle with the South Africa pacer.
Punjab Kings’ talented wicketkeeper-batter Jitesh Sharma was one of the most impressive uncapped cricketers in the recently-concluded IPL 2022. The right-handed batter, who plays for Vidarbha in domestic cricket, shared an interesting conversation with South Africa pace spearhead and Punjab Kings-PBKS teammate Kagiso Rabada during this year’s IPL 2022.
Jitesh Sharma: Kagiso Rabada Requested Not To Smash Him
Punjab Kings had secured the services of Jitesh Sharma for a modest amount of Rs 20 lakh. No other franchises registered any bid for the wicketkeeper-batsman, thus allowing PBKS to sign him up at his base price. It turned out to be an effective signing. Jitesh Sharma had impressed one and all with his shot-making and finishing abilities. He has also impressed with his work behind the stumps.
“After the last match, Kagiso Rabada called me up, asked me to sit beside him, and said ‘do you think you can play for India?’. I said ‘KG, I don’t think about the future. I try to focus on every match, taking it one match at a time and concentrate on every single day.’ He said ‘I think, in a few years, I’m going to bowl to you in international cricket, just don’t smash me’,” Jitesh told sports presenter Yash Kashikar in ‘Say Yash To Sports’.
Playing his first IPL, the 28-year-old scored 234 runs in 12 matches at a brilliant strike rate of 163.64. He had one of the best numbers in the middle overs among all batters in the IPL. The right-hander did not feature in the first few matches for Punjab Kings but once he was given an opportunity, he grabbed it with both hands and even forced PBKS to keep an impact player like M Shahrukh Khan out of the XI.
Kagiso Rabada was IPL 2020’s leading wicket-taker (purple cap winner). He didn’t play the first game of IPL 2022 for being in quarantine. He had picked 23 scalps in IPL 2022 playing 13 games and averaging an impressive 17.65 and was Punjab’s leading wicket-taker this season. Last season, he was part of the Delhi Capitals and scalped 15 wickets in 15 games. Punjab Kings bought him for Rs. 9.25 crores during the IPL 2022 auction.
Jitesh Sharma Used To Copy Jonny Bairstow’s Stance
Jitesh Sharma also shared the learnings from England’s dashing opener Jonny Bairstow and said he used to ‘copy his stance’ a couple of years.
“I tried to grab as much knowledge as possible from Jonny. I still remember 2-3 years back, I used to copy his stance. I saw him hitting a hundred and smashing the Australian team, and became his fan. He is a brilliant man who always came up to guide me and gave me a lot of feedback because he wants to see me on a bigger level,” Jitesh added.
In his short IPL career, Jonny Bairstow has notched up as many as 9 fifties and 1 hundred in the IPL. Tenacious England wicketkeeper-batsman was a new entrant to the IPL who was bought for Rs. 1.5 crore by the SRH team management for the 2019 season.
Jonny Bairstow, a member of England’s 2019 World Cup-winning squad, is one of the cleanest strikers of the ball and can win the matches for his team on his own. Punjab Kings brought him on board for INR 6.75 Crores. He had scored 253 runs in 11 innings averaging 23 in IPL 2022 and has scored 2 fifties. Both his fifties (66 vs RCB and 56 vs RR) came when he opened the innings.