Sandeep Sharma’s stocks as a limited-overs bowler have gone a notch above after the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019, wherein he claimed 17 wickets to push Punjab into the quarterfinal.
However, the 26-year-old pacer was left stunned after he was overlooked to play in the recently held Deodhar Trophy for India A, B or C.
In an exclusive interview with TOI, Sandeep on Sunday (November 10) expressed his disappointment, saying: "I was hoping to be in one of the Deodhar Trophy teams but the question of true criteria of selection puzzles me again."
After impressing one and all with his prodigious swing during the Under-19 World Cup in 2012, Sandeep made a mark in the Indian Premier League for Kings XI Punjab by taking 39 wickets in his first three seasons.
During the Zimbabwe tour in 2015, Sharma received his India cap in the T20I series. Afterwards, he hit a roadblock with shoulder injury also taking a toll on his body.
"After my shoulder injury, the selection committee abandoned me and I failed to understand what was happening. When I did well for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on comeback, I asked one of the selectors what I should do to get another chance. They told me: 'Hum log IPL ke performance pe focus nahi kar rahe (We aren't looking at IPL performances). Domestic ke aadhaar pe selection hoga (domestic cricket will be the basis of selection)," Sandeep recalled.
He also shared the torrid experience of rehabilitation period.
"Surgery is easy. Rehab is difficult," Sharma said. "It's frustrating and depressing at the same time. Loneliness strikes you when you see your teammates play and train, while you just warm the couch. The only good part is time to reflect on your game."
Having learned some tough lessons in the last few years, the Punjab bowler now refuses to look too far ahead.
"Never look too far ahead, for that's when cricket trips you. So, just look at the next game, next week, and just take it from there," he concluded.
(With TOI inputs)