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Mohit Sharma - India's surprise weapon

Mohit Sharma - India's surprise weaponHis deceptive slower deliveries and unexpected bouncers have fetched him 11 wickets in theongoing 2015 World Cup. Ian Chappell says he has played a key role in Team India's transformation. 
But not many know that Mohit Sharma was on the verge of quitting the game due to nagging injuries even before the 26-year-old Haryana paceman had made his firstclass debut. 

Sometime in 2007, Mohit was virtually crippled by a major lower-back injury, recalls Vijay Yadav, the former India wicket-keeper from Haryana. 

"The pain was there for some time. But after he fell down while bowling during a camp of Ranji ODI probables, doctors advised him complete rest. The injury put him back by a year," recalls Yadav, whose cricket academy has been home and heart to the paceman since 2004. 

Injuries are part of any fast bowler's career. But a debilitating back injury can raise serious self-doubts in any cricketer's mind. "Mohit had no idea whether he would be able to bowl again. Badi himmat aur mehnat karke usne dobara practice karna shuru kiya," says Yadav, who played one Test and 19 ODIs for India. 

But it only got worse for Mohit. In 2010, he started having severe pain in the shin. While training for Haryana's U-22 camp, the pain became severe. He broke down again. 

A close friend recalls that Mohit was extremely troubled those days. His father was a foreman at the Escorts factory. Pursuing cricket required money which wasn't exactly plentiful at home. 

"He was on the verge of quitting. One day, we came to know that he was about to join a friend's cricket coaching academy in Ballabhgarh, where he was born and where his parents lived," said Aniket Upadhyay, his firm friend and roommate at the academy located in the interiors of Haryana's Faridabad district. 

That's when Yadav stepped in. "Don't leave cricket right now. Ask your parents to give you one more year," Yadav told his promising ward. Mohit was offered a deal: in return for a free stay at the academy, the paceman could train other young cricketers. Those were tough days for Mohit. "He would catch a train or bus to Delhi where a physio helped him with rehab," recalls Yadav. 

By 2012, Mohit had regained fitness and form. Everybody was impressed by his commitment at the Ranji training camp he was selected for. Incredibly, even his Ranji debut was delayed by an injury in his left hand's webbing. Finally, he made a modest debut against Baroda in Dec 2012. 

The following year proved to be his breakthrough season. It helped that Haryana's home ground was at Lahli, a green top. A bag of 37 wickets in Ranji got him a regular place in CSK where he impressed captain MS Dhoni leading to an India debut. 

He got the Man of the Match in his first ODI against Zimbabwe. And for once, luck shone on him when Ishant Sharma's injury got him a place in the WC squad. 

In the past three years, Mohit has strengthened his body with regular rehabs and has added a yard to his pace. 

Discipline has played a key role in the Mohit success story. Whenever Mohit is in town, he and Aniket still share Room No. 5 at the Vijay Yadav Residential cricket academy. 

Along with signed photographs, Mohit's purple cap for being the highest taker in IPL, hangs in the room. "He eats the same food as the rest of us when he stays. He likes Arijit Singh's songs and still loves the hostel's bread-omelette," he says. 

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