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Gujarat Titan's Sai Sudharsan cherishes big step forward, prepares for South Africa sojourn

Watching Shubman bat from non-striker’s end and how he paces his innings, his composure, all of them were indeed a learning for me, says Sudharsan

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 05.12.23, 08:17 AM
Sai Sudharsan, playing for Gujarat Titans in this year’s IPL.

Sai Sudharsan, playing for Gujarat Titans in this year’s IPL. File picture

Sai Sudharsan ho­lds the rare distinction of earning more from a state-based franchise (T20) league than from the IPL.

At the first-ever auction of the Tamil Nadu Premier League held this year, Sudharsan was roped in for Rs 21.6 lakh by Lyca Kovai Kings, which was more than the base price of Rs 20 lakh with which he went to Gujarat Titans ahead of IPL 2022.

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But obviously, it’s his IPL experience that counts over everything else and has been vital to his progress. This year’s IPL in particular goes down as one of the turning points of Sudharsan’s career as he eventually earned his maiden India call-up for
the ODI leg of the South Africa tour beginning on December 17.

The 22-year-old left-hander did well to follow up his successful IPL campaign by scoring runs in the Emerging Teams Asia Cup back in July before earning a county contract with Surrey last August for three Championship Division One matches.

In his own words, he is gradually evolving as a cricketer, courtesy his post-IPL experiences. But the time the youngster has spent so far in the Titans camp has been nothing short of invaluable in terms of his growth and progress.

“It’s because of the IPL that I had the opportunity to face quality bowlers, which helped me evolve and get better as a batsman. Those extra games that I got this year in the IPL has made me sharper and a better cricketer overall,” Sudharsan, currently busy with the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Tamil Nadu, told The Telegraph from Mumbai on Monday.

He played three more games in the IPL this year compared to five in 2022, aggregating 362 runs at an average of 51.71 with a strike rate of 141.41. He had three half-centuries, 96 being his highest.

Not just the runs he scored, but what also helped him shine was his batsmanship and careful reading of the situation, especially when at the non-striker’s end batting with Shubman Gill — the top run-getter of IPL 2023.

“Watching Shubman bat from the non-striker’s end and how he paces his innings, his composure, all of them were indeed a learning for me,” Sudharsan said.

“Besides, the then captain (Hardik Pandya) and the entire support staff at Titans created a great environment for me and also gave me the necessary space to express myself to the fullest.”

For his state too, Sudharsan has done exceedingly well so far in white-ball cricket, averaging 60.42 after 24 List A games and striking at 96.28. An average of 43.63 in 11 first-class appearances isn’t bad either.

With Gill too not featuring in the ODI squad alongside the rested Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, there’s a fair possibility of Sudharsan making his debut straightaway in the series opener in Johan­nesburg on December 17, partnering Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top.

“Finding a place in the XI is not something under my control. On my part, I need to focus on my preparation and get fully equipped for the series.

“The emphasis now is more on the tactical things, being ready to deal with all situations, batsmanship and taking the game deeper. If I keep doing the needful, a place in the XI will definitely happen,” Sudharsan said.

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