From ball boy to Punjab Kings’ new signing: Ashutosh Sharma ready to set IPL ablaze

February 20, 2024
After a Punjab Kings batting camp in Mumbai, the new entrant, Ashutosh Sharma was sitting excitedly with his phone in his hand,

Mohali, Feb 20 (IANS) After a Punjab Kings batting camp in Mumbai, the new entrant, Ashutosh Sharma was sitting excitedly with his phone in his hand, waiting for former Indian cricketer Sanjay Bangar to arrive.

Bangar, the Head of Cricket Development of the franchise, was delighted when Ashutosh showed his 12-year-old selfie alongside him.

While Bangar was a part of the now-defunct Kochi franchise when the selfie was taken, Ashutosh was a young ball boy. Over a decade later, the 25-year-old cricketer will have a chance to train under one of his cricketing idols, as he was picked up by the Punjab franchise for Rs 20 Lakhs for the coming edition of the Indian Premier League.

“I remember my meeting with Bangar Sir. I was 10-11 years old at the time, and I asked him to advise me on my batting stance. Now, the dream is fulfilled and I am here at Punjab Kings, and will receive coaching under him” Ashutosh said.

Ashutosh, who hails from the city of Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, began his cricketing journey at a young age. Due to a lack of opportunities in his hometown, he moved to Indore when he was 8 years old to train at Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association’s residential academy.

“When I left home, I did not have enough money. I used to go to a camp and I started umpiring in matches to afford lunch. We were a family of limited means, and it was hard to do everything on my own so early. But I never let it affect my family about my struggles as I did not want them to worry” he recalled.

During a rough batting patch, while playing U19 cricket, Ashutosh thought of punishing himself by doing all his household chores without any help, believing it would bring discipline and remind him of the sacrifices he had made to reach the level. “After doing so for a month, I scored a hundred,” he recalled.

The time spent on his own also made Ashutosh the chef among his friends, and cooking became one of his favourite hobbies. “My signature dish would be paneer curry and rice. I also make amazing ginger tea,” he said.

Growing up, Ashutosh admired local Ratlam cricketer Naman Ojha as one of his childhood idols, along with Suryakumar Yadav. In 2019, despite a string of solid performances, opportunities did not come his way in Madhya Pradesh, and after three years away from the sport, Ashutosh shifted to Railways.

Last year, in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy clash against Arunachal Pradesh, the right-handed batsman smashed an 11-ball fifty, breaking Yuvraj Singh’s record of the fastest half century in the shortest format, capturing the attention of the cricket community.

“It was one of the most memorable moments of my career, along with getting picked for Punjab Kings.”

Ashutosh recalled the day of the auctions and described the tense atmosphere at his house. “Even though I was confident I would be picked, I was unable to sit in one place and completely skipped lunch,” he said.

When he was eventually picked by the Punjab Kings in the acceleration round after a long wait, Ashutosh switched off the television set immediately and the celebrations began. “I stayed up with my friends till 5 AM. My phone kept ringing and eventually stopped working. Our relatives and family brought crackers and sweets. The people from the town put posters all over, celebrating that a player from the area has been selected. It was a great atmosphere. I called my coach and told him that the hard work has paid off,” he recalled.

Now, set to feature in the coming season of IPL, Ashutosh has his mission statement prepared. “I want to express myself,” he said. “I have worked so hard to reach here. I will work even harder now so I can help Punjab Kings win their first trophy.”



Latest Articles

Related Posts