‘Jonny Bairstow said ‘You can represent India”

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Jitesh Sharma, who played his maiden IPL season for Punjab Kings last year, has opened up about the positive environment of the dressing room at the franchise and how the team backs the players to get the most out of them. Notably, the 29-year-old wicketkeeper-batter shared dressing room with players like Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Jonny Bairstow and Liam Livingstone during the 2022 season.

The Vidarbha batter had an impactful season last year as a finisher, scoring 234 runs with a impressive strike rate of 163.64. He also explained that his teammates and coaches backed him throughout the season and that helped him perform better. 

“Whatever I have learnt being in Punjab Kings so far is that the players here are strong believers in the talent and skill that they possess. Whenever there’s a newcomer in the team, he is always a bit nervous as to whether he will be able to live up to the expectations. But when I observed Shikhar Bhai, Mayank, Bairstow, Bhanuka, Livingstone, etc. I realized that they have incredible self-belief. That really made me express myself and helped me instill some self-belief,” he told Sportskeeda.

Jitesh also impressed England’s Jonny Bairstow with his batting ability, as the former reckoned he is ready to represent India in T20Is. “I had many interactions during IPL 2022, but the one with Jonny Bairstow will always be memorable. He came to me once and told me that I had the ability to represent my country at the highest level in the T20 format. He advised me to stay focused on my performances and not worry much about selection,” said Jitesh.

Opening up on his role of being a finisher, Jitesh said it needs mental toughness in a player and that he tried to take the game deep. “As a finisher, you need to be practical and accept that you will be in situations where you will win some games for your team, but also lose some. You can’t become a hero in every game, all you can do is try and take every game as close as possible to your team’s victory. So I have always believed in taking the game deep and trying to be there till the end to help my team get over the line,” he said.

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