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Umpiring for pocket money to IPL glory

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New Delhi, April 5: In his formative years, Ashutosh Sharma began his journey by umpiring matches for extra income. Over time, he navigated through numerous challenges and hardships, eventually transitioning into the realm of professional cricket.
“There was a time when I wasn’t even allowed to get a feel of the cricket ground,” Ashutosh Sharma said revealing the toughest phase of his cricket life, a day after playing the most eventful match of his short career.
The 25-year-old Railways cricketer, whose 31 off 17 balls earned Punjab Kings a creditable win in a high-scoring chase against Gujarat Titans, was speaking about the time between 2020-22 when he didn’t know where his career was heading.
He had fallen out of favour with India’s most celebrated domestic coach Chandrakant Pandit, who had then just taken over as MP head coach.“I would go to the gym and retire to my hotel room. I was sinking into depression and no one told me what my fault was.
A new coach had joined Madhya Pradesh and he had strong likes and dislikes and despite scoring 90 odd in 45 balls in a trial match, I was dropped from the team,” Ashutosh said without naming the coach.
Though he did no mention Pandit but it is clear he was referring to Pandit.
After pacer Gourav Yadav (former MP pacer), and Namibia’s David Wiese (former KKR all-rounder), now Ashutosh has railed against the Mumbaikar’s “my way or high way” style of coaching.“I had three fifties in six Mushtaq Ali games in the previous season yet I wouldn’t even be allowed to go to the ground. I was very depressed,” the angst was visible in 25-year-old’s voice as he spoke to reporters.
It was a job offer from Railways that once again helped him get out of the hole and last year he equalled Yuvraj Singh’s record of fastest T20 fifty in 11 balls against minnows Arunachal Pradesh during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
It earned him an auction bid for Punjab Kings as team’s batting coach and former Railway legend Sanjay Bangar spotted him.
But if there is anyone who makes Ashutosh emotional is his childhood coach Amay Khurasiya, the former India left-hander, who has seen him at the MPCA Academy since age of 12. Khurasiya was there even when Ashutosh was facing mental health crisis.“Amay sir knows me since childhood. I got a lot of tips on mental health from him. I speak to him before every game and even before this game I spoke with him. Also inputs from Shikhar Paaji (Dhawan), Sanjay sir on playing proper shots instead of trying to slog helped.”
Khurasiya couldn’t be more happier for his ward, who he first saw at the Indore Academy as a 12 year-old, who had come all the way from Ratlam to make a career in cricket. (PTI)

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