He is still an “incomplete” player as per his own assessment, but Jitesh Sharma is ready to put his head down and do the hard work rather than think about his selection in India's white-ball teams.
The Vidarbha and Punjab Kings keeper-batter though has already had a feel of the Indian team dressing room when he was called up for the home T20Is against Sri Lanka earlier this year. But this is another World Cup year with the 50-over meet set to take place in October/November, while India play quite a few limited-overs series leading up to the quadrennial showpiece.
There’s still some time left for the World Cup, but for the upcoming clashes, like those against the West Indies, Ireland and in the Asia Cup, the second keeper-batter’s position will be up for grabs till KL Rahul returns fully fit. If Rahul’s return is delayed, Ishan Kishan will most likely continue as India’s preferred keeper-batter in the XI.
Jitesh then can certainly afford to be more optimistic about his place in the squad. But, with his feet firmly on the ground, Jitesh doesn’t at all wish to run after it.
“I don’t think I need to run after an India berth. If I keep doing what’s required of me and ensure my fitness levels are high, these berths will automatically come to me. I don’t need to run after them or keep thinking about them,” the 29-year-old, in the city to play in the P. Sen Trophy for Bhowanipore Club, told The Telegraph.
Being one of the reliable players of Vidarbha alongside impressing for Punjab Kings in the last couple of IPL seasons, Jitesh’s focus is on brushing his skills further and take his overall game to a level higher. “I feel I’m still an incomplete player and a lot of the other guys around are either on par or ahead of me.
“That kind of helps me to strive for further betterment and keep pushing myself so that I can reach a particular level, which is very important for my career, considering where it is at.
“In other words, no matter how well I do in the IPL, there are plenty of areas I still need to work on: my glovework, my batting and fitness. If a batsman goes on to get a big hundred, he will try and replicate that or do even better next time,” Jitesh emphasised.
In this year’s IPL, Jitesh finished as Punjab Kings’ third-highest scorer with 309 runs at a strike rate of 156.06, coming out to bat in the middle order. The biggest learning for Jitesh from this IPL has been the need to be “thick-skinned”.
“I feel it’s important to be thick-skinned in the positions I usually went into bat: Nos.5 and 6. That’s something I learnt from someone like Liam (Livingstone)... Because those are such positions where you have to see both sides of the coin.
“If you perform and win your team the game, you’ll have everyone praising you. While if you fail to deliver, you could be criticised severely and have to bear the brunt. And that’s where you need to be thick-skinned,” Jitesh explained.