New Delhi, Mar 14: Young pacer Sandeep Sharma, the joint highest wicket-taker for India in the U-19 World Cup, looks up to Dale Steyn for "inspiration" and wants to emulate the South African fast bowler whenever he gets a chance to don the national colours.
"I bowl around 128-130kmph at the moment. I am looking to add another 5-8kmph to my pace and improve my game. I look up to Dale Steyn and want to be as successful as him one day. I am just 19 and my body is developing. I am content not to push myself too much at the moment," Sandeep said.
Sandeep, who had impressed all and sundry with his impressive 12-wicket haul in India's U-19 World Cup-winning campaign, feels the success of pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the Indian team augurs well for the upcoming crop of swing bowlers in the country.
"Swing bowlers are in the limelight at present in India. Bhuvneshwar and Shami Ahmed are doing pretty well and performing whenever given a chance. Bhuvneshwar's success, especially, augurs well for the upcoming players," he said.
Excited to become part of Kings XI Punjab for the Indian Premier League season 6, the Patiala lad said that working with another swing bowling exponent, Praveen Kumar, for his home franchise will help him improve the nuances of his game.
"Praveen Kumar has been one of India's best swing bowlers. He is one good example of swing bowling and working with him will add a lot to my game," he said.
"I am lucky to have been taken up by my home franchise. It's a dream come true for me. Mohali pitch is one of the best surfaces for pace bowlers in the country. I have bowled a considerable number of overs on it and hope to use that experience in the coming season," he added.
Sandeep, who had an impressive domestic season picking up 41 wickets for the Punjab team in the Ranji Trophy, exuded confidence of emulating his success in the shorter format of the game.
"IPL is a good and competitive platform. Competing with players from around the world under such immense spotlight will go a long way in helping me improve my game."
Kings XI has a battery of Australian players, led by inspirational Adam Gilchrist, and Sandeep said playing under his leadership will be a great learning curve for him.
Kings XI Punjab has also added Rajasthan's left-arm medium pacer Aniket Choudhary to its squad for the sixth edition of the IPL and the 23-year-old said he will look to extract every bit of help from the Mohali surface.
"Mohali pitch is ideal for me. Pace and bounce are my strengths. I am confident that I will get a lot of assistance from the surface," he said.
With Zaheer Khan in the twilight of his career and injuries plaguing others pacers, Umesh Yadav and Varon Aaron, Aniket feels the other youngsters have a chance to perform and come in the reckoning for the national selection.
The Bikaner lad, who was one among the 12 pacers selected by the BCCI for a camp to develop India's pace bowling reserve, is presently working on adding variations to his arsenal.
"Bowling in a 20-20 game is a lot different than bowling in the longer format. Variations are very important and so I am working on developing slower deliveries and yorkers," he said.
Talking about his team's chances, he said, "Kings XI is a very good franchise. I am glad to have been snapped up by them. I am looking forward to learn a lot playing with Aussie star Adam Gilchrist and others in the team."