'I started playing cricket for extra marks,' Jitesh Sharma makes a stunning revelation
Jitesh Sharma says he "never wanted to play cricket". Yes, the passionate Vidarbha cricketer, who has been one of the shining lights for Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and gets touted by many as India's potential next T20I wicketkeeper-batter, wasn't even interested in taking up the sport initially.
The PBKS aggressor down the order says he instead wanted to give the NDA exam and become an air force officer until his destiny took him to cricket, which happened as he embarked upon his air force dream through a path which he couldn't have completed without giving this bat and the ball thing a go.
The 29-year-old revealed this in an interaction with the Indian Express, stating that the NDA set-up and marking system was such in Maharashtra that if he performed well in cricket, he would've received extra five percentage marks and found leeway in going past the air-force cut-off.
The unique beginning towards the sport saw Jitesh Sharma give district trials under the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) ecosystem and from there, kicked off a journey which has since transformed him into a key player for the state side and also Punjab franchise in the IPL.
Jitesh Sharma's interesting ascent to cricket via air-force dream
"I never wanted to play cricket," Jitesh Sharma told the Indian Express. "I never had a childhood coach. I learnt cricket from watching the videos on YouTube; most of them were of Adam Gilchrist and Sourav Ganguly. I always wanted to go into defence. I wanted to be an air force officer."
“I was very fond of that blue shirt. To appear for the NDA exam, you need a specific cut-off. In Maharashtra, there was a rule – If any player, who has played till the state level, he or she would get 25 marks extra. That was the catch. For that extra 5 per cent, I started playing cricket," he added.
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Jitesh said it was in 2011 when he first gave the district trials at the age of 16 with the intention that the moment he would tick off the extra percentage requirement, he would give up cricket. That never happened, of course. He is today one of the more impressive uncapped IPL cricketers on the field.
"Amar More, my neighbour, saw me playing in a school cricket match. At his insistence, I joined the cricket club in Amravati. The plan was simple: after the boards, I will quit cricket, but it never happened," added the right-hand blaster, who has made 379 runs at an eye-catching strike-rate of 157.9 since his PBKS debut last season.