Updated February 20th, 2024 at 20:27 IST

'I even PUNISHED myself': PBKS batter underlines his journey from days of struggle to IPL call-up

Playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a dream of many players,

PBKS team | Image:X.com
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While the league has evolved to a great extent in the last 16 years, its objective has remained the same. The Indian Premier League has lived up to its motto of "talent meets opportunity" and several examples of it have reverberated in the last one-and-a-half-decade. Another such specimen has come out from the ranks of the Punjab Kings franchise.

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PBKS' Ashutosh Sharma can't wait to showcase his mettle

IPL side Punjab Kings' new pick Ashutosh Sharma says he wants to make an impact with the bat for his franchise if he gets the opportunity, given that he has worked really hard -- even punished himself -- to reach this stage of his cricketing career.

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Ashutosh, who has so far played four first-class games for Madhya Pradesh and scored a century, was picked up by the Punjab franchise for Rs 20 lakh ahead of the upcoming IPL.

During his days of struggle, Ashutosh, who hails from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, even started umpiring so that he could afford lunch.

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''When I left home, I did not have enough money. I used to go to a camp and I started umpiring in matches to afford lunch. We were a family of limited means, and it was hard to do everything on my own so early. But I never let it affect my family about my struggles as I did not want them to worry,'' he said.

Ashutosh began his cricketing journey at a young age but due to lack of opportunities in Ratlam, he moved to Indore when he was just eight years old and started to train at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association's residential academy.

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Such was his determination to excel that the youngster even punished himself by doing household chores if he hit a rough patch while playing U-19 cricket.

He felt the ''punishment'' would bring discipline in his life and remind him of the ''sacrifices'' he had made to reach this level.

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''After doing so (household chores) for a month, I scored a hundred,'' he said.

Last year, during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tie against Arunachal Pradesh, the right-handed batter smashed an 11-ball fifty, breaking Yuvraj Singh's record for the fastest half-century in the shortest format.

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''It was one of the most memorable moments of my career, along with getting picked for Punjab Kings,'' Ashutosh said.

Now with an IPL contract in hand, Ashutosh wants to excel in the lucrative league and help the franchise win its maiden title.

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''I want to express myself. I have worked so hard to reach here. I will work even harder now so I can help Punjab Kings win their first trophy,'' the right-handed batter said.

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The Auction tale

Recalling the day of the auction, Ashutosh said the atmosphere in his house was tense and the moment he was picked in the ''acceleration round'', he immediately switched off the TV set and went into a celebration mode.

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''Even though I was confident I would be picked, I was unable to sit in one place and completely skipped lunch. I stayed up with my friends till 5 am. My phone kept ringing and eventually stopped working. Our relatives and family brought crackers and sweets. It was a great atmosphere. I called my coach and told him that the hard work has paid off,'' he said.

Ashutosh is happy that he can now train with his childhood hero and former India cricketer Sanjay Bangar, who is the head of cricket development at PBKS.

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Ashutosh Sharma with Sanjay Bangar

''He (Bangar) was delighted when I showed my 12-year-old selfie alongside him,'' said Ashutosh, of the picture taken when Bangar was a part of the now-defunct Kochi franchise over a decade-and-a-half back when he was a ball boy. ''I remember my meeting with Bangar sir. I was 10-11 years old at the time, and I asked him to advise me on my batting stance. Now, the dream is fulfilled and I am here at Punjab Kings, and will receive coaching under him,'' said Ashutosh.


(With inputs from PTI)

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Published February 20th, 2024 at 20:27 IST