Vijay Hazare Trophy: Punjab pacer Sandeep Sharma to play for Chandigarh

Having been overlooked by the Punjab selectors for the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy, medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma has decided to switch to Chandigarh.

The 28-year-old fast bowler secured a no-objection certificate from his parent state, Punjab, and will play his first match for his new team in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Kerala (Elite Group D) at the Madhav Rao Scindia Cricket Ground, Rajkot, on Wednesday.

Sharma, talking to The Indian Express, says he decided to make the switch because his office (Bharat Petroleum) is in Chandigarh.

“I moved to Chandigarh because my office is here. It was just a personal decision,” says Sharma, who has played 2 T20Is for India against Zimbabwe in 2015.

However, this paper understands that there was no guarantee he would be selected for the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Ranji Trophy. He was not part of the team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

“He wanted to play all the three formats, but in the pace department, he was fourth in the pecking order after Siddharth Kaul, Arshdeep Singh, and Baltej Singh,” a PCA official says.

Since making his senior debut for Punjab in the 2011-12 season, the wiry pacer has played 44 first-class, 49 List A matches, and 48 T20s matches.

Chandigarh got affiliation a couple of years ago and are playing in the Elite Group in the white-ball tournaments. However, in the Ranji Trophy, they are in the Plate Division.

“My focus is on white-ball cricket for now, and Chandigarh are playing with Elite teams in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Yes, in the Ranji Trophy, they will be in the Plate Group, but this is a group of talented players, and I am sure we will earn the promotion this season,” says Sharma.

He is known to swing the ball both ways and played a pivotal role in India’s 2012 Under-19 World Cup triumph in Australia. He bagged 12 wickets in the tournament.

His 39 wickets in the first three Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) earned him an India cap for a two-match series against Zimbabwe in 2015. But, thereafter, he had injury issues.

A stress fracture followed by shoulder injury kept him out of the game for 18 months.

From 2013 to 2017, Sharma played for Kings XI Punjab. For the last three seasons, he has represented Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Sharma has a fine record in the IPL. In 99 IPL games, Sharma has picked 112 wickets at an average of 25.43 and strike rate of 19.62. His economy is 7.77.

Sharma has made a name for himself as an effective new-ball bowler and has picked up wickets in the Powerplay overs against top-order batters.

He has dismissed Virat Kohli seven times in the IPL, the most by a bowler in the IPL.

In fact, in 12 innings against Sharma, Kohli has managed to score just 68 runs. He has also dismissed Rohit Sharma and Chris Gayle four times each in the IPL.

Sharma is confident that SRH will bid for him in the upcoming mega auction. He says, “I am sure Sunrisers will go for me in the auction. But the auction has always been tricky, let’s see.”

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