'MI won the game but Ashustosh won hearts': Harbhajan hails Punjab's youngster

The former Indian bowler also saluted the batter for fighting depression and making his way back into mainstream cricket


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Published: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 12:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 12:49 PM

Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh lavished praise on Punjab Kings uncapped batter Ashutosh Sharma for his valiant knock against Mumbai Indians in Thursday’s Indian Premier League thriller.

When PBKS were down and dusted, Ashutosh raised hopes of an unprecedented comeback with some attacking stroke play that included a smoked shot of star speedster, Jasprit Bumrah straight into the stands.

His shots resonated with the likes of South Africa's 'Mr 360 Degree' Ab de Villiers and India's dynamic batter, Suryakumar Yadav.

“He plays like Suryakumar Yadav and it is not easy to hit Bumrah for boundaries the way he does. MI won the game but Ashustosh won hearts,” Harbhajan said on his YouTube channel.

Before creating an impression in the ongoing IPL, Ashutosh faced a lot of hardships in his life.

Harbhajan turned back the clock and recalled the time when a Madhya Pradesh coach sidelined the 25-year-old after which Ashutosh went into depression.

“Ashutosh was rejected by Madhya Pradesh, he played a top knock and it is said that he was in depression,” said Harbhajan. “He got a job in the Railways and the best thing that happened was he played for them and struck a half-century in 11 balls.

“This is a record and it shows the potential of Ashutosh.”

The attacking batter has made his way to the top on the back of successful seasons in domestic cricket. In 2018, he made his senior debut at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and in the next season he amassed 233 runs to finish as the second-highest run-getter for Madhya Pradesh.

But in the next year, he was sidelined from the team and did not receive any explanation for the decision.

“In 2019 I scored 84 runs in my last game for MP [against Puducherry]. Then next year, there was a professional coach who came in and he had his likes and dislikes. He did not like me and sat me out of the team,” Ashutosh said without naming the coach. “I got into a bad depression. That was the Covid time, so only 20 people used to travel, and I used to stay back at the hotel” Ashutosh previously said, as quoted from ESPNcricinfo.

“I stayed at the hotel for one to two months. I was not even able to see the ground. All I did was go to the gym and come back to the room. I got really frustrated and slipped into depression. It was tough to come out of that.

“I kept thinking, where did I go wrong? I could not sleep for days. No one even said anything. I was driven out of the set-up without explanation. Those two to three years were pretty bad,” he added.

On Thursday, the 25-year-old raised PBKS from the ashes when they were down and out at 77 for six.

He got PBKS close in the elusive chase, with three towering sixes off Akash Madhwal in the 16th over, bringing down the equation However, Ashutosh was caught off guard by a slower delivery from Gerald Coetzee in the 18th over. He ended the game with a score of 61 off 28 deliveries as PBKS suffered a nine-run defeat.


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