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Jitesh Sharma becomes Vidarbha’s third player to get India call up, to join India T20 team in Pune | Cricket News


NAGPUR: Vidarbha wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma who stole the limelight in IPL 2022 while playing for Punjab Kings has been called up to join the India squad in the ongoing T20 series against Sri Lanka.
It is learnt that the right-hander Sharma has been called as replacement for Sanju Samson, who hurt his knee while fielding in the series opener at Mumbai on Tuesday. Sharma will join the squad in Pune on Thursday.
With this, 29-year-old Sharma has become only the third Vidarbha player to be selected in any Indian team, after Umesh Yadav and Faiz Fazal.
In IPL 2022, the Amravati-born wicketkeeper maintained a strike rate of 163, which was the second-best strike-rate holder for Punjab behind Liam Livingstone.
Sharma replicated his IPL exploits and finished games for Vidarbha in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s (SMAT). In this event, Sharma did not keep wickets in the initial matches. Later, the Vidarbha team management gave him wicket-keeping duties since there were reports that the national selectors wanted to see him in action.
Sharma not only impressed with his glove work but also gave glimpses of his hard hitting in the semis in front of selectors at Eden Gardens. He finished as the highest run getter for Vidarbha.
Sharma has been in the IPL scheme of things since 2015-16 when he finished as the third-highest run-getter in the SMAT. This performance fetched him a contract with Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2016 auction but he did not get a match and was then dropped from the set up.
In the next five years, he mastered the skill of generating immense power to send the ball out of park. This helped him re-enter the IPL set up in 2022, this time with Punjab Kings. Yet, a place in the playing XI eluded him as Jonny Bairstow was an obvious choice.
However, his power hitting in the nets impressed Punjab’s then chief coach Anil Kumble and Jitesh earned his place in the playing XI. Kumble’s pep talks before his IPL debut – “Jitesh, your wait is over now. You are going to get your chance” – changed the story for the wicketkeeper. From that day, Jitesh has not looked back.



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