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Ranji Trophy: After inspired dressing-room speech, Railways skipper Karn Sharma walks the talk

It wasn’t an easy start to the season for Sharma. He had to come back from pre-season camps to attend to his daughter’s health that had demanded regular hospital check-ups.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
Updated: December 27, 2019 8:49:07 am
All-rounder Karn Sharma scored a brave 112 not out to dig Railways out of trouble against Mumbai, enabling them to snatch a 152-run lead. (File)

In the dressing room, before he took the field, Karn Sharma, Railways’ captain, told his team a simple truth: “Cricket is a game where you don’t know what can happen once you go inside (the arena)—you can become a hero.”

As it turned out, it was Sharma who returned the hero on the second day’s play against Mumbai, hitting an unbeaten 112, gaining a 152-run lead, before Mumbai were left wobbling 64 for 3 in their second innings, still 88 runs adrift of Railways.

It wasn’t an easy start to the season for Sharma. He had to come back from pre-season camps to attend to his daughter’s health that had demanded regular hospital check-ups.

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“My daughter has an eye-sight problem since birth and as a professional player it was getting tough. My mind was always on family, they couldn’t have done it without my presence. Being a professional player means I had to attend camps, pre-season fitness camps, there is no liberty to skip those once you are roped in as professional player. But I had to look at my family also,” he recalls.

Sharma says he spoke to Railways selectors, who were sympathetic to his situation. He spoke to officers in Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi, where he was posted earlier. “They (DLW) knew my case where officers had filed charge sheet when I went to play IPL. They too were interested in hiring me again. I did a fresh joining, went as low-grade officer. It was tough decision but I had to take it,” he added.

Wobbly start

Sharma’s knock had revived Railways from 43 for 5 as he first added 85 runs for the seventh wicket with Avinash Yadav before continuing the fight with the tail.

In their reply, Mumbai top order again fell cheaply – Prithvi Shaw made 23, fellow opener Jay Bista for 13 and Siddhesh Lad too didn’t last long. It was left to Ajinkya Rahane and Suryakumar Yadav to hold the fort but Mumbai still have to do a lot to climb out of the hole. In his team meeting, Sharma had also spoken about the importance of doing well against Mumbai. “It doesn’t matter what you do against many other teams but a performance against a strong team like Mumbai counts. It’s always a big plus point,” he shared what he told the team. “I told the boys that it’s just a bat-and-ball game, you will be under pressure if you go by the names.”

Railways had bundled out Mumbai before lunch on the opening day for a paltry 114, before Sharma helped them post 266 in response. Sharma believes the match is not over as yet, as a “big team like Mumbai know how to come back”.

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He is of course pleased with his contribution and its vital role in putting them in a strong position. “We were five down, they had experienced bowlers. It was delayed start, the moisture had seeped in. I just wanted to stay there and bat on, take it ball by ball. When I was 70-odd runs, I felt I could get a hundred. If we win it from here, it will be give more satisfaction than the hundred,” Sharma said.

Sharma has been part of two IPL winning teams before Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. Last season, he hardly got games but he says he isn’t complaining too much about it. Back in the dressing room, he insists of setting an example, especially as the lone player who has played Test match for India.

Asked if the Indian dreams are still present, he says, “I want to make a comeback, I’m waiting for that day. I have hope. And the day I lose that hope, I will leave this game.”

Brief Scores: Mumbai 114 and 64/3 (Prithvi Shaw 23, Suryakumar Yadav 15 batting, Himanshu Sangwan 2-11) trail Railways 266 (Karn Sharma 112 not out, Arindam Ghosh 72; Tushar Deshpande 4-44) by 88 runs.

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