My goal is to do well in multi-day cricket: Suyash Sharma

- November 21, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Delhi leg-spinner, who shot to fame with great show in IPL and helped script Delhi’s run to semis in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, talks about how IPL stint with KKR boosted his confidence and how he remains focussed on the longer format

Suyash’s haul of 18 wickets in SMAT, the same as Baroda medium-pacer Atit Sheth’s, was second only to Hyderabad pace bowler T Ravi Teja’s 19.

The 20-year-old from Maujpur in north-east Delhi took up wicket while helping out his brother in the nets that was set up on the rooftop of their house. He soon joined an academy before getting a chance in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) league cricket. Three seasons there and even before he could get into the Delhi senior team, he was catapulted to stardom thanks to KKR scouts spotting him and the franchise management playing him.

Suyash returned from IPL 2023, his rookie season in the cash-rich league, with 10 wickets from 11 matches for KKR. He had an impressive strike rate of 23.4 and an economy rate of just over eight (8.23).

The bowler spoke to Patriot after the conclusion of SMAT, where Delhi reached the semi-finals before losing to Punjab.

Excerpts from the interview: 

Did the experience in IPL T20 cricket help you do well in SMAT?

The experience in IPL was great. I came into this tournament straight from IPL, where I had done well, so my confidence was really high. If only we had played better in the semi-finals, we could have won. What I feel is that in IPL, the room for error is less as there are many international-level players. Even if we bowl one or two bad balls in an over here [in SMAT], we can get away. But that is not the case there in IPL. There, you have to plan very well and bowl and bat as per the plan. The pressure is very high, especially from public. You gain so much confidence there since you play and practice a lot with great players.

Is there any difference in bowling style here (for Delhi in SMAT) and there (in IPL)?

No, not really. My planning is the same. My plan is to bowl away from the batsman’s range. If it is a new batsman, then I can bowl one or two balls up to him, just to get the feel [of his approach]. After that, I maintain the right length and keep the ball away from the range of the batsman. Neither up to the batsman nor too back and, importantly, I try to keep the ball stump to stump.

STAR PERFORMER: Suyash (left) with Delhi’s newly-appointed coach Devang Gandhi during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where Delhi made the semi-finals. Leg-spinner picked 18 wickets, including a five-wicket haul, in seven games.

How did your interest in cricket grow?

My elder brother, who used to play, inspired me. We have a net on the rooftop terrace of our house. So, he used to catch hold of me for knocking. I had not much understanding of cricket back then. But my parents saw some talent in me and sent me to an academy. (Suyash’s elder brother has stopped playing now).

In the area you live (near Maujpur in north-east Delhi), there aren’t cricket facilities. How did you handle it?

I used to practice night and day on the net of our rooftop terrace, where a mat was laid to act as pitch. I would keep bowling there. Then I met Suresh Batra (a cricket coach who also guided Virat Kohli in his early years at Rajkumar Sharma’s West Delhi Cricket Academy before starting his own academy in partnership at Khalsa College). I stayed under him for a long time. He supported me a lot and I used to go for practice at Khalsa College, where he was coaching.

It was a hard grind, we have heard…

The financial situation of my family wasn’t good. Even playing league cricket in Delhi would cost money. You needed to pay Rs 30,000-35,000 [taken as contribution from a player to help operate a club]. Batra sir ensured that I played for his Dena bank team for free, without any charge. He never took money, didn’t even take any fees for coaching in his academy. He always used to say, ‘whatever you can manage, contribute that. If you can’t pay anything, no problem’. He supported me a lot. (Suyash started playing for Dena Bank in 2017-2018 and continued till 2021 when Suresh Batra died).

What prompted you to pick leg-spin bowling?

I was initially a batsman. I felt that I had to do something unique. I realised that my leg-spin was coming off well. I continued with it and it kept improving. I didn’t take inspiration to bowl leg-spin from anywhere.

Who is your role model?

None. I don’t have any role model as such. But I like Gautam Gambhir’s attitude a lot. I am inspired by his on-field attitude. He is good as a person too.

You seem to have a fast bowler’s attitude despite being a spinner?

It is not about having a fast bowler’s attitude. I just think that every player should be a bit aggressive. That is how they should be. Your game will only improve [with aggressive attitude].

How did you get a break for KKR?

Their scouts probably saw me in an under-25 game [for Delhi], and called me for trials. Pankaj Singh, who was the head coach of the Delhi under-25 team last season, also pushed my case. Once there at the trials, I dismissed 7-8 players and bowled very well. That is why they picked me. The KKR stint is a big breakthrough. It helped me and my family a lot financially. (Suyash lost his father a week after IPL 2023).

Now that you have tasted success in T20 cricket, both in IPL and SMAT, how are you looking forward to day’s format for which you may get selected? 

I had never played for any senior team before the IPL. I had played only one-day cricket at the under-25 level. I was picked for IPL straightaway and it was my first break at senior level. Now, I have been shortlisted for 50-over games and will hopefully get to play the multi-day cricket which is my dream. I won’t do anything special for one-dayers or four-day games. Whatever flow I possess, I will maintain that. It is just about the length of the delivery. I will try to spin it more. Otherwise, I will try to keep things simple.

How much do you practice?

I practice regularly, almost every day. I bowl 20-25 overs daily. I don’t take coaching or guidance from anyone. I do things on my own. Whatever the KKR and Delhi coaches tell me, I follow. Besides that, I try to analyse the videos of my own bowling and try to sort out what I can do to improve my bowling. I look at videos after every match and see what wrong or right I did. Even if I play a local match, I try to analyse its video. Wherever it is possible, I take videos, wherever it isn’t, I try to recall it in my mind. I try to work on whatever wrong I am doing.