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'He encouraged me to play lofted shots': Abhishek credits father's advice for six-hitting ability

IANS | July 08, 2024 12:05 PM

HARARE: After smashing a brilliant maiden international hundred in the second T20I against Zimbabwe, Abhishek Sharma credited his father's advice of playing a lofted shots for his big hitting show.

Playing just his second T20I, the 23-year-old all-rounder slammed a stunning 46-ball hundred on Sunday. The 46-ball ton is the joint-third fastest by an Indian batter in men's T20Is. Rohit Sharma's 35-ball century in 2017 and Suryakumar Yadav's 45-ball ton in 2023, both against Sri Lanka, are the two fastest tons for India, while KL Rahul also had a 46-ball hundred against the West Indies in 2016.

"All this is due to the hard work I've done. Special thanks to my dad, who always encouraged me to play lofted shots, even when I was a kid. Usually coaches don't allow you to play lofted shots much. My dad used to tell me that if you want to play a lofted shot, it should go out of the ground. For me, it's always been there from my childhood that if I'm confident, I like to express myself, " said Abhishek, who hit eight sixes in his whirlwind knock, in a post match presser.

The youngster swiftly reached his half-century with a six and then capped it off by hitting three consecutive sixes in the 14th over to complete his century, making him the first Indian to achieve this feat in men's international cricket. Shubman Gill has done something similar, but his back-to-back sixes took him to 200 in an ODI against New Zealand in 2023.

The young opener also revealed that he used his childhood friend and under-19 teammate Gill's bat in the second T20I, something he has regularly done in the past as well.

Gill and Abhishek started playing together in the under-12 category. The duo also played together in the 2018 ICC Men's Under-19 Cricket World Cup, where India took home the title.

"The journey has been very beautiful. When we started playing, we were around 10–11 years old, and we have been playing since U12 together. The ultimate goal was to represent the country. I have said before that the first call I got (about selection) was from Shubman, and he was very happy.

"I played with his [Shubman's] bat today, and it went really well. Special thanks to him for the bat. This happens from the U12 days, whenever I think it's a pressure game or it's a match I should perform, I take his bat. Even in the IPL, I ask for his bat. Even today, it went really well, " said Abhishek.

Abhishek further attributed the smooth transition of young players to the national team to the Indian Premier League experience that helped them to handle pressure.

"I think IPL plays a big role in this because, as a youngster, as a debutant, we didn't feel much pressure when we came to represent the country. It's always a great motivation once you are playing for the country. Unfortunately it didn't go well in yesterday's game, but my mindset and intent was same.

"I had a word with the other debutants too, we've all played cricket together a long time, since U14 days I'd say. I think it's all about approach in T20, about intent. If I show intent and if it is my day, it usually goes like this, " said Abhishek.

Abhishek admitted the players were disappointed after losing the series opener, especially since the first-choice squad had won the T20 World Cup.

"Losing a game like that after the country has won a T20 World Cup was disappointing for the players. But still, we were all youngsters and have been playing together and against each other since childhood.

"So none of us went into our shells after losing, we were instead all together and thinking about the hard work we put in all those years and how this is the ultimate goal for all of us, so we should enjoy and focus on the next thing. Mindset was to forget what has happened and focus on the next match, " he concluded.

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