Struggling leg-spinner Rahul Sharma announces retirement, set to take part in Road Safety World Series

The emergence of a new batch of spinners had pushed Rahul further down the pecking order and he has struggled to get opportunities to represent a state team.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, August 28, 2022, 01:16 PM IST
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Sharma will play for India Legends after Sachin Tendulkar offered him a chance to do so |

Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma has opted to retire from all formats of the game and take part in the second edition of the Road Safety World Series. Sharma will play for India Legends after Sachin Tendulkar – who is the brand ambassador for the tournament offered him a chance to do so. It’s the second time that Sharma has a reason to be thankful to Tendulkar.

The first time was in 2011, when the lanky spinner dismissed Tendulkar in an IPL game and caught the attention of the cricketing world. His bowling style even led to comparisons with Anil Kumble, India’s most successful leg-spinner, and he subsequently earned a berth in the Indian team.

But a facial nerve dysfunction and injury problems meant that the man from Punjab soon lost his way. He played his last first-class and IPL game in 2014. He tried to work his way back many times but failed to do so. He also suffered a personal setback last year when he lost his father to post-Covid complications. That’s when Sharma had spoken to Tendulkar about his financial plight.

“I had been depressed for years after picking up multiple injuries at crucial junctures of my career. I trained and worked on my rehab at the National Cricket Academy. But chances never arrived easily. Tendulkar remembered how badly I wanted to play competitive cricket again and offered me this chance to play in the Road Safety World Series. I have decided to start my second innings with this league,” Sharma, 35, said.

Rahul further said that with the emergence of a new batch of spinners he fell further down the pecking order and has struggled to get opportunities to represent a state team.

“I could not get a single chance at state level to showcase my bowling after recovering from my injuries. The new spinners had also cemented their places. But I am happy that various leagues across the globe are serving as huge platforms.”

“I need money to sustain myself and live a good life. Losing my father to Covid has been the biggest tragedy. Had Sachin paaji not given me this chance, I would have gotten into depression again,” he added.

Rahul played 22 first-class, 35 List A, and 74 T20 matches in domestic cricket.

During Sharma’s difficult phases, he consulted psychologist Mugdha Bhavare after advice from Indian women team’s coach Ramesh Powar.

“Her sessions helped me come out of that phase. Now, I will be eyeing foreign leagues too in the coming months. I need to earn and also continue with my passion for cricket,” said Sharma, who played four ODIs and two T20Is for India.

Rahul did play for Jalandhar in Punjab’s inter-district tournament last season, but young spinners Mayank Markande and Abhishek Sharma hogged the spotlight for the state team.

The second season of the Road Safety World Series is set to be played from September 10 to October 2 in Lucknow, Jodhpur, Cuttack and Hyderabad. It will feature a total of eight teams – India Legends, Australia Legends, Sri Lanka Legends, West Indies Legends, South Africa Legends, Bangladesh Legends, England Legends and New Zealand Legends.

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