Former India chief selector and current Punjab Kings spin bowling coach Sunil Joshi rates Jitesh Sharma among the best wicketkeeper-batters in the country and feels it is only a matter of time before he plays for the national team.
Jitesh was part of the India T20 squad in the previous two series but could not get a game. Considering the consistency he has shown in domestic cricket and IPL over the past 24 months, the Punjab Kings wicketkeeper-batter could get his opportunity in the next T20 series featuring India.
“Jitesh has been wonderful. It shows his quality and one of the reasons he was picked in Indian team in place of Sanju Samson. In the last 18 months how he has performed in domestic and IPL and that is the reason he is being ahead of some other wicketkeepers,” Joshi, who was an India selector between 2020-2022, told PTI.
Samson and Ishan Kishan are the other top contenders for the slot as Rishabh Pant continues to recover from injuries suffered in a car accident last December.
“Jitesh was already in the team in the last T20 series. His role is to go out and express himself with the bat and enjoy, and he has been doing that for Punjab Kings.”
Jitesh has been striking at 165 plus in this IPL and is the second highest run getter of the team behind skipper Shikhar Dhawan.
Is he ready for all three formats?
“Lets stick to the T20 format, he has done well consistently in this format in the last two years of IPL. That performance was recognised by the wise people who picked him in the Indian team,” said Joshi.
WANT SPINNERS TO INCREASE DOT BALL PERCENTAGE
Punjab spinners Rahul Chahar, Harpeet Brar and Mohit Rathee are getting to pick Joshi’s brains. Joshi, who played 15 Tests and 69 ODIs for India, also has a rich coaching experience having worked with multiple domestic and international teams including Bangladesh.
“Rahul has been bowling really well. At times when they don’t bowl well they still get wickets and when they are bowling well they are not taking many wickets. So he has been bowling really well as per situations of the game. He may not be among the top wicket takers but he has the potential to grow immensely.
“Harpeet (Brar) too has been improving day by day and bowling really well. In the IPL, one over can be a game changer, it can be in the middle or back end. My communication with the spinners is to increase the dot ball percentage where you put pressure on the batters to play shots,” he said.
ARSHDEEP’S WORK ETHIC IS EXEMPLARY
Left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh’s career has seen a rapid rise over the past 18 months when he went to feature in the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup. In the ongoing IPL, he is Punjab’s leading wicket taker but has conceded close to 10 runs per over.
Joshi was all praise for Arsdheep.
“He is a fantastic bowler. He had a couple of off days which are part of the game and is a learning curve. We all know how sincerely and consistently he has performed for Punjab. His work ethic is exemplary and every net session he goes in the way he would bowl in a match.”
Punjab are among the few IPL teams without a title, with their only final appearance coming way back in 2014. They were sixth in the last four editions.
This season too has been a mixed bag but the team remains very much in hunt for a playoff berth.
“There are few things we look at when we talk about consistency. Consistency comes with togetherness, on and off the field, appreciating each other’s performance irrespective of the result.
“Overall the team bonding plays a huge role. The franchise takes care of all needs of the player. That is when the team starts gelling,” added Joshi.