At the end of third day’s play of the CK Nayudu Trophy match between Delhi and Gujarat at Jamia Millia University ground on Monday, Delhi U-22 coach Amit Bhandari told his players to take five laps on the field which was later reduced to two laps. One of the players instrumental in getting the post game workout cancelled was skipper Manan Sharma. It wasn’t that he was feeling lazy or simply unwilling. Manan simply wanted to save his energy for the fourth day’s play.
At that stage in the game Manan was batting on 17 alongside Vaibhav Rawal (43) with Delhi 50 runs adrift of Gujrat’s first innings total. Knowing his team had no intention to declare the innings and force a result on the last day, Manan was keen to score as much as possible. He did exactly that scoring 127 off 213 balls to help his team reach 540/6 at close of play on Tuesday. On the basis of the first innings lead, Delhi has topped the table and will now prepare for the knock out tournament beginning November 28.
The knock though was doubly satisfying for Manan. Although his official role is that of an all rounder, prior to the Gujarat match, Sharma was more of a bowler in the tournament with 14 wickets in three matches with his left arm spin. The century highlighted the batting aspect of his role. Having taken two wickets in the Gujarat innings with his left arm spin, Manan now has finished the league phase of the tournament with a more than satisfactory 16 wickets and 260 runs. Indeed if one were to ask him what his role is now —bowling or batting all rounder and he thinks for a while before saying with a smile — ‘ just an all-rounder’.
Bearing the additional responsibility of being the captain, Manan knows that he will often be called to drag the team out of a pressure situation with both bat and ball. “We have seen that most wickets haven’t supported the seamers so me and Varun ( left arm spinner Varun Sood) had to bowl the bulk of overs. We both have bowled over 50 overs in an innings but one can’t predict when the wickets will come. On some days Varun had luck going for him and some other day will belong to me. I can only wait