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Will be better prepared for Test cricket if I get another chance, says Karn Sharma

Karn talks about his journey from toiling away for long hours at the Diesel Locomotive Works to becoming one of Team India prospects.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Chennai |
Updated: August 12, 2015 7:08:57 am


India cricket, cricket India, India cricket team, Karn Sharma, Karn Sharma India, India squad, India Test squad, cricket news, cricket Karn has played only one Test. (Source: AP)

His Test debut last year in Australia was a rather forgettable affair. As he waits for the national team recall, leg-spinner Karn Sharma talks to The Indian Express about his journey from toiling away for long hours at the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi to becoming one of Team India prospects. Excerpts from an interview:

Was it disappointing to miss out on the Tests against Sri Lanka?

I never think of things which are not in my hands. When I started playing cricket nobody thought I will reach this level. From been ignored by my state Uttar Pradesh to becoming a class IV employee at Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi, many had doubted my abilities. But my family says that hard work always pays off. I am more than happy that I have come this far in my career.


How did leg-spin happen to you?

I always liked Shane Warne, he is the reason I chose to become a leg-spinner. In 2000 I was selected for UP’s under-14 team. I took six wickets in two games and scored some runs as well. Despite that, I was never picked again. In the trials I bowled better than the others, but I didn’t see my name anywhere. So, nowadays whenever I play against UP, I try to do well.

Was joining Railways a hasty decision?

No. My coach Rakesh sir told me it will open up more options for me. But the first two years at DLW Varanasi were the toughest. I used to start my day at 6am with practice and by 9am I had to be in office. You know what all a class IV employee has to do. Sab loha uthana padta tha (had to lift iron). At lunch time I used to be at the ground again for training and would return to office after that.

Did you ever think of giving up cricket?

At one stage I did think about it, but my parents said nothing comes easy. If any officer said I should be allowed to practice, it used to hurt many egos and as a result, they would burden me with more work. Luckily, I was later transferred to another department, where I met officer M Singh. He assured me that I’ll get half-day off only if I promise him that I would go on and play for India. I made that promise and look where we are today…

UP does not have the infrastructure but still manages to produce Test cricketers…

The boys there are hungrier for success and there is little else to fall back on. I was very fat earlier but at DLW we had a ground where I used to bowl for hours. There were some who taunted me, saying that I did that just to impress the boss, but I was never bothered. Be it 45 degrees or 12, I never stopped practice.

And there is Railways, which is no different?

I remember in my first season, we slept in a train compartment in Bilaspur. I have travelled in unreserved compartment. There were no physios, no trainers… sab Ram bharose (God’s will). We just went there and played. Even in Ranji Trophy games we used to stay in dormitories, but I have no complaints. Whatever I’m today is because of the Railways.

From bogies to seven-star hotels, how did you cope with the sudden change?

I was picked for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009 when IPL was held in South Africa. It was hard to cope up initially. One day, you are just another local player and the next you are playing with the likes of Anil bhai, KP, Dale Steyn and others. I played one game where I didn’t bowl but I used to see how Anil bhai bowled. For a leg-spinner, it’s important to pitch the ball at the right spot and Anil bhai did that perfectly.

You played more as batsman for Railways…

That’s because when I made my debut we had Murali Kartik and Kulamani Parida. So I had little chance of getting into the team as a bowler. In 2013, I scored 400-odd runs and took around 40 wickets in under-25 tournament and it proved to be the turning point.

Your nearest rival is Amit Mishra, who has more experience than you, and probably more variety.

I’m different. I can’t bowl slow like others. I’m not Amit bhai, who gives more flight, but I can bowl googly, flippers, etc. Leg-spin is not easy. In my first season in IPL I bowled a bit slow, which was picked by many. As I gained experience, I began to bowl with more speed and started to use the bowling crease properly. Amit bhai has too much experience and I am just a few seasons old. Spinners progress very late. I just hope that by the time I bid farewell to the game, people remember me as one of the best spinners in the country.

Was there pressure before your debut Test against Australia?

I didn’t slept the whole night before that Test. I never thought that my first Test would go this way. The way they attacked my bowling shocked me. Probably the pressure of being the lone spinner in the team affected me. I saw the videos later. I went round the wicket too, but it was too late. If I get another chance, I will be better prepared for it.

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