Apart from being a good player, you need luck to find the right stage to show your quality. Fortune smiled on the 23-year-old Vivrant Sharma this season when in the Vijay Hazare Trophy at Mumbai, Jammu & Kashmir had a game against Ranji champions Madhya Pradesh to start things off.
For the J&K players, it was a massive opportunity as Chandrakant Pandit was in the dugout of the MP team. The celebrated coach is now also the coach of the IPL side, Kolkata Knight Riders.
At Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Cricket Academy ground, MP rattled off a massive total of 342. It’s not a target, J&K were expected to come close to. But, on the day they surprised the MP attack, led by Avesh Khan and Kuldeep Sen, on way to a two-wicket win. The platform for the chase was set by their opener Vivrant Sharma with a 62-ball 69.
It is not the runs you get but the manner in which you get them that really matters. One shot that he played early in his innings, against India international Avesh, was enough to catch Pandit’s attention. The left-handed Vivrant had the audacity to simply flat-bat the pacer for a straight six. It was followed by a big hundred (154*) in J&K’s final league match against Uttarakhand at the Wankhede Stadium.
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He bowls useful leg-spin too and SRH also knew about his game through his teammates from Jammu, Abdul Samad and Umran Malik.
IPL trials followed and on Friday, Vivrant was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping ₹2.6 crore, drawing the highest bid among the uncapped all-rounders as SRH won the bidding war with KKR.
“It’s a great feeling. It is an important season for me. I had a good T20 Mushtaq Ali tournament, then did well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, also performed well at the IPL trials, it feels good to be picked,” said the 23-year-old Vikrant.
“The match against MP was an important match for us, Pandit Sir was there and MP were the champion team, the 69 runs I scored made a good impact,” he added.
It was an emotional moment for Vivrant and his elder brother, Vikrant. The all-rounder said, he owes his success in cricket to the guidance and support of his brother after both his parents passed away early in life. He was five when he lost his mother (to brain tumor) and 14 when he lost his father (kidney failure due to diabetes) in 2015. Asked how he coped when he lost his father too. “After that cricket became the purpose of life, and my brother’s support was there. He was a cricketer and I followed him,” said Vivrant.
“Vivrant had become mentally strong at that time only (when mother passed away). When our father passed away, he knew there is nobody now… I told him, joh bhi gaye hai na woh upar se dekh rahe hai (whoever has left us is still watching us from above), you just need to perform well, that’s it. I am both your father and mother, go and play,” said Vikrant.
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The J&K all-rounder knows the set-up at SRH well, being a net bowler last year. “I was a net bowler at SRH last year, both Samad and Umran are there so it feels good. It will be easy to settle down.”
Vivrant used to bat right-handed till the sixth standard, but my elder brother was a left-hander, looking at him I also switched from right to left-hander. “I was also a gutsy player, left-hand batter and leg-spin bowler, I taught him the same combination,” said Vikrant.
Vivrant is coached by Randhir Singh (better known as Rajan), who also trained Abdul Samad and Umran Malik.
Randhir says his ward is an asset as a leg-spinner too. “Vivrant is a freakish leg-spinner, it is difficult to pick his googly. When Rashid Khan was not there last year with SRH, Samad had shown his videos to SRH and he was selected as a net bowler. I knew the day they see his batting, they will pick him,” said coach Randhir. “A leg-spinner who can bat is a highly valued player in the T20 format. I won’t be surprised if he goes on to play for India.”