IPL 2023: A Purple Cap winner, Mohit Sharma shows he is not done yet

Last season, the Titans picked up Mohit as the net bowler and he was drafted into the squad this season

Mohit Sharma (Source: Twitter/Gujarat Titans)
Mohit Sharma (Source: Twitter/Gujarat Titans)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Back in the 2014 edition of IPL, Mohit Sharma had emerged as the highest wicket-taker of the season with 23 wickets for Chennai Super Kings. A sequence of injuries, an increasing field of fast bowlers forced the nippy Punjab seamer into the shadows from 2016 onwards – till he forced his way into the limelight again on Thursday night at Mohali.

Now 34, the experienced Mohit figured in the playing XI of champions Gujarat Titans as a fourth seamer in place of Yash Dayal, but paid back the faith of team management with a disciplined haul of 4-0-18-2 to win the Player of the Match. It was his tight spell at the backend of the innings which helped the Titans restrict Punjab Kings to a below par total of 153, which the former overhauled to return to winning ways.

‘’Yes, there was a bit of pressure as I was returning to IPL action after quite a while,’’ a relieved Mohit told the broadcasters later. ‘’Not too many people were aware that I had returned to domestic cricket after undergoing a back surgery,’’ added the man from Haryana.

With the 10-team IPL passing through a phase where resources could be spread thin for each team, there will be an increasing premium on experience and skillsets. This is where the likes of a Mohit Sharma, who once excelled in the Powerplay and once enjoyed the confidence of M.S.Dhoni in both IPL and international cricket, may come in handy even in 2023.

The journey of the well-built fast bowler, whose nagging length and the ability to hit the deck was an asset, began on a sensational note in 2013 when he dismissed the great Sachin Tendulkar in what was the latter’s curtain call in domestic cricket on a lively strip at Lahli. The Whistle Podu army were quick to spot him and soon enough, Mohit became the next big thing among the Indian pacers.

He was a part of the national squad in the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh while in the 50-overs World Cup Down Under next year, Mohit was drafted as a replacement for Ishant Sharma. The Australian wickets suited his style of bowling and Mohit emerged as India’s third highest wicket taker.

However, a series of injuries from there onwards – first an ankle issue and then a back injury – started relegating Mohit on the sidelines. He started losing on the bite in his bowling and in two domestic first class seasons between 2015 and 2017, Mohit picked up only five wickets in his domestic appearances. Signing up for Delhi Capitals in the 2020 season, he just played one game – leaking 45 runs – and was released by the franchise at the end of the season.

The doubts over his fitness and form meant there were no takers for him in the 2021 season, which was held at the peak of the second wave of Covid-19. Last season, the Titans picked up Mohit as the net bowler and he was drafted into the squad this season.

In a limited window of opportunity, Mohit has provided the returns. If the lively wicket at Mohali, one of his familiar wickets, had given him a chance – there is no guarantee that he will figure in the playing XI on a regular basis.

Mohit, of course, will be only too willing to wait for his opportunity and show he is not done yet.

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