Even though the Punjab leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda didn’t feature in any IPL game this season,he will never forget this edition as his side Kolkata Knight Riders were crowned champions. A knee injury had been dogging him early in the season but skipper Gautam Gambhir and the team management kept faith in Ladda and asked him to keep himself ready whenever they would need his services. And with spinners Sunil Narine,Iqbal Abdullah and Sakib ul-Hasan shining with the ball,KKR didn’t eventually need to risk Ladda in the final XI. Yet,Ladda will look back at this edition with pride. And the open-bus parade and team felicitation that followed in Kolkata after the victory.
The 25-year-old told Sportline: “I have been attached with KKR since IPL IV. I know how important was it for Gauti bhaiya to lead us to the win. It was fantastic to see KKR beat Chennai SuperKings and then Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla went ballistic with joy. When I touched the winning trophy,it was like a dream come true. We all were dreaming to lay our hands on the trophy for two months. Even though I did not play,I could feel the joy of winning the coveted trophy,”
Talking about the disappointment of not playing in any of the matches due to fitness issues,Ladda shared,”Narine was exceptional with the ball. He was our leading wicket-taker in the tournament. The Eden pitch supported the spinners well. Sitting in the dug-out I was feeling disappointed and frustrated,but the team management was behind me. Wasim (Akram) bhai used to talk to me in Punjabi and share his injury days. Even Brett Lee was quite encouraging. He told me not to get frustrated and concentrate on regaining total fitness. He himself has gone through eleven injuries in his career. Gauti bhaiya was also quite supportive.”
Ladda suffered the knee injury in IPL 4 and had to go in for a surgery. Due to the surgery,Ladda had to miss out on competitive cricket for a whole year. He went into rehab and strengthening at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore under Physio Nitin Patel,just before the IPL began.
Back in Mohali for spinners’ off season camp at the PCA Stadium,Ladda is hopeful of doing well for the state team in the upcoming season. He said,”It is nice to hit the nets at the PCA stadium. I am bowling with full tenacity and vigour. I feel that there is no problem with my knee now. I also had a good talk with Vikram Rathore paaji,who asked me to forget the IPL win and get back into the days’ cricket mould. I want to make most of the Ranji season and aim to break into the Indian Test squad in the coming time.” Ladda has played 13 first class matches for Punjab and scalped 41 wickets. Adding further, an employee of State Bank of Patiala said,”I know there is a general perception that one has to start from the scratch after a surgery. I want to work so hard in the off-season camps and also play in lot of matches,so that there is no problem when the season starts. Moreover I do not think there is any competition between me and Rahul Sharma as we have played for Punjab together at the same time.”
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