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News

Vivrant Sharma lives his brother's dream with Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL deal

"It's all because of my brother's sacrifice. I would not have been here otherwise"

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
23-Dec-2022
Vivrant Sharma can hit a long ball  •  Vivrant Sharma

Vivrant Sharma can hit a long ball  •  Vivrant Sharma

Vivrant Sharma was at an Ahmedabad hotel, packing after a deflating loss to Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy. The IPL auction had been running in the background on TV, but it was only when the capped players' sets finished that it registered that his name would be up soon.
As the 23-year-old allrounder from Jammu & Kashmir watched, he saw Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders battle it out for his services. A base price of INR 20 lakh (USD 24,000 approx.) zoomed past a crore within no time. When the hammer finally went down a few minutes later, he'd been signed up for INR 2.6 crore (USD 317,000 approx.), a sum he certainly "did not expect". All he had hoped for was to be picked. This was "unimaginable".
Vivrant's first move after that was to ring up his elder brother Vikrant, who inspired him to become a cricketer. Vikrant aspired to be fast bowler and even represented his university, but stepped aside to manage the family's chemical business following the death of their father Sushant Sharma in 2020.
Vikrant's focus alongside the family business was to ensure Vivrant lived his passion. That dream began to take shape in February 2021, when he made his List A debut for his state side. Earlier this month, an anticipated Ranji Trophy debut materialised. On Friday, he took the next step up.
"My cricket would have come to a halt but Vikrant ensured that it continued non-stop as he took over the family business and started living his dreams through me," Vivrant told PTI. "It's all because of my brother's sacrifice. I would not have been here otherwise. I was not good at studies, but Vikrant ensured I continued to focus on cricket and kept making progress."
This won't, however, be Vivrant's first brush with the IPL. Earlier this year, on Abdul Samad's recommendation, he was a net bowler for Sunrisers, bowling handy legspin. It was there, during a training session, where reserve players were range hitting, that Vivrant gave glimpses of his big-hitting abilities.
He provided further proof of his abilities during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy domestic T20s in October, when he made 128 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 145.45. There was one particular knock, against Karnataka, that he picks out as a turning point.
In a chase of 148 on a sluggish surface in Chandigarh's Mullanpur stadium, Vivrant found himself batting with the lower order as J&K sank to 31 for 6. Vivrant launched a fierce counterattack to make a 46-ball 63 with six fours and two sixes. J&K lost the game, but Vivrant had made a mark. With the ball, overall, he picked up six wickets at an economy of 4.80.
He followed that up with solid returns at the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he was the team's second-highest run-scorer with 395 runs in eight innings at an average of 56.42 and strike rate of 94.72. This included a 124-ball 154 against Uttarakhand that powered J&K into the preliminary quarter-final. He also picked up five wickets in the tournament.
Given these numbers, he held on to hopes of an IPL deal, but "I never expected such an amount. I was just hoping someone would pick me."
Vivrant is a die-hard Yuvraj Singh fan. He's also thankful to Irfan Pathan, the former India allrounder who was a mentor to J&K for two seasons, for his support. "Being a left-hander himself, Irfan too has influenced me a lot," he said. "He is a player's coach and is still in touch with us. I'm sure he will be very happy today."
Come the IPL, Vivrant hopes to pick Brian Lara's brains at Sunrisers. But, for now, his focus is on churning out good performances for J&K in the Ranji Trophy. "There are a lot of expectations [from me]. I just want to stay grounded and keep learning."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo