New Delhi: From watching the IPL as a fan till last year to playing in it this season, life has come full circle for rookie Kings XI Punjab off-spinner Shivam Sharma who believes the tournament provides a platform for bagging India berth.
"IPL is a platform from where you can go on and represent India. It was my dream to play in this T20 league. I had gone to see an IPL game with my brother last year and told him about my wish," Shivam said.
Shivam, 20, got Royal Challengers batsman Yuvraj caught at slip to bag his debut wicket in a T20 match and then sent Albie Morkel packing to end with figures of 2 for 26. The youngster said it was all part of a plan.
"We planned to attack Yuvraj. He is the kind of player who can demolish any bowling attack if he gets going. So it`s important to get him early. And that`s the reason I did keep a slip for him as advised by our think-tank," said the former India Under-19 skipper.
The off-spinner does not have a `doosra` in his armoury but relies on the carrom ball to surprise batsmen. "I don`t have the doosra, but I do have the carom ball. I bowl the carrom ball a lot in the nets, but (Glenn) Maxwell has decoded my carom ball delivery with his reverse sweeps. So, one learns a lot while bowling to him in the nets, you grow as a T20 bowler," said Shivam.
Overawed by the presence of stars in the Punjab dressing room, Shivam considers himself lucky to be just sitting next to a Virender Sehwag or Maxwell. He admits to have learnt a lot from the senior players.
"It`s sometimes unreal to share a dressing room with such big players. From Sehwag I have learnt to keep my cool in any situation. Maxy (Maxwell) is a fun guy, he keeps the dressing room in good spirits. We can`t bat like him but we do learn to play it cool like him," said Shivam.
Getting just two games this season, Shivam has made his presence felt and attributed his self-belief and confidence for his little success."It`s tough to make a mark in a team full of stars. But it also becomes easy if you have self belief. The main thing that separates the top players from the ones who aspire to become big, is confidence," said Shivam.
A self-confessed Harbhajan Singh fan, Shivam admitted that he does not have the senior off-spinner`s doosra. Shivam said he is also a Ravichandran Ashwin fan.
"Harbhajan Singh is my all-time favourite though I cannot bowl the doosra like him. I also like Ashwin a lot," said Shivam.
Getting a chance to bat at No.9, Shivam is known as an all-rounder at the junior level with a few centuries under his belt for Delhi U-19.
"I have now developed as a bowling all-rounder. But I started off as a batsman and my bowling developed after 17 years of age and I represented Delhi Under-19 as an off-spinner," said Shivam.
After being ignored in the Delhi Under-25 team, Shivam was spotted by Kings XI coach Sanjay Bangar for an IPL trial. The Delhi-lad still hopes to play for his state in Ranji cricket.
"Let`s hope that Delhi pick me this Ranji season. I believe that they will, now that I have played IPL. You never know about the future but I certainly would like to play for Delhi," said Shivam.