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Abhishek Sharma can be 'a real asset' for India, says Tom Moody

The SRH allrounder said he didn't know whether his bowling would be needed against RR but he was prepared just in case

Abhishek Sharma celebrates his first wicket of the season, Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Rajasthan Royals, Qualifier 2, IPL 2024, Chennai, May 24, 2024

Abhishek Sharma had bowled only three overs this season before his spell of 2 for 24 against Rajasthan Royals  •  Associated Press

Abhishek Sharma said he "didn't know" whether he would have to bowl for Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 against Rajasthan Royals in Chennai but was ready in case the call came. And despite bowling just three overs previously in IPL 2024, Abhishek sent down a match-winning spell of 2 for 24 to put SRH in the IPL final.
"To be honest, I didn't know I will bowl this match but I was very much ready with my bowling because I've been working really hard on my bowling," Abhishek said after the game. "The last two years it's been really good with my batting so I wanted to work on my bowling with my dad. So special mention to my dad."
Abhishek's had a blockbuster season with the bat, scoring 482 runs at a strike rate of 207.75 in 15 innings. His 42 sixes are the most this season, and the most for an Indian batter in any IPL season. On Friday night, however, it was his left-arm spin that came to the fore against RR's middle order. He had Sanju Samson caught at wide long-on with his third ball and bowled Shimron Hetmyer with a carrom ball in his third over to leave RR six down. Abhishek did not concede a boundary in his first three overs.
He was the sixth bowler used by SRH in their defence of 175 as the Chennai pitch began to offer lots of turn in the absence of dew. Though he hadn't bowled much for SRH this season, Abhishek had bowled 20 overs in Punjab's successful campaign in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last season.
"When I saw the starting XI, I knew he's [Abhishek] going to bowl today," Varun Aaron said on ESPNcricinfo's Time Out show. "He's a really good bowler. I've seen a lot of him in domestic cricket. He's one of those bowlers who tosses it up a little bit, more than the others. He bowls that carrom ball which comes out from the front of the hand, that was a really good ball. That shows he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and he's a full-time bowler for Punjab. He's one of those who likes to bowl and tells the captain, 'I want to bowl in domestic games, it helps me be in the game more.' He's one of those allrounders who look forward to bowling. The other thing is he would have been wanting this chance to bowl for the longest time and he lapped it up really well."
Though he hasn't bowled much this IPL season, Abhishek is one of only a few Indian batters who can bowl as well in limited-overs cricket, along with the likes of Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag and Nitish Kumar Reddy. That skill-set has been missing in the Indian team for a while - none of the specialist batters in the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup can bowl.
"He backs himself 100%," Tom Moody said on ESPNcricinfo's Time Out show. "Yes, he doesn't bowl as much as he needs to bowl in domestic cricket for whatever reasons but for the future of Indian cricket he needs to be bowling because he is a serious package to be reckoned with. [Bats] at the top of the order, someone who can bowl left-arm spin whatever the format, he's going to be a real asset going forward.
"The reason that makes him unique as a spinner is he tosses it up and what he tries to do is get overspin on the ball, so the ball comes down like that (with seam upright and facing the batter, not sideways), Nathan Lyon style, it dips. So he doesn't bowl side spin, he bowls overspin and he's got that clever carrom ball he's been working on which is the one Hetmyer got and was an absolute peach."