IPL 2023: How seamer Sandeep Sharma gave hope to death bowlers
Things looked ominous for Sharma when Dhoni pummelled him for two sixes within the first three deliveries – first one over square and the second over mid wicket
For once, Mahendra Singh Dhoni came up short in his job of finishing it for Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday night at the Chepauk. Sandeep Sharma, the journeyman seamer who kept the mighty MSD and Ravindra Jadeja at bay after suffering two sixes in the last over, is unlikely to enjoy much hype though despite pulling off a thin win for Rajasthan Royals.
It’s the skewed nature of the game in T20 cricket where the finisher walks away with all the glory – just look at the spotlight Rinku Singh had been basking in since Sunday. Yash Dayal, the young left-arm seamer who got clobbered in that fateful last over for Gujarat Titans, continues to be projected as the quintessential tragic hero.
Dayal’s fate was awaiting Sandeep, now 30, and a senior pro in the IPL with more than 100 wickets to his name. An apparently steep target of 21 was required from the last over, less than what the Kolkata Knight Riders needed the other night (29) with the formidable pair of Dhoni and Jadeja in the middle.
Things looked ominous for Sharma when Dhoni pummelled him for two sixes within the first three deliveries – first one over square and the second over mid wicket. There would be no escape for Sharma, one thought as Dhoni was connecting well and the in-form Jadeja had just clobbered Jason Holder for two sixes and a four in the penultimate over.
With three balls to go, Sharma thought on his feet and brought about a change in his line. A couple of years back, he made a telling comment about Chris Gayle, his erstwhile teammate at Punjab Kings: “Chris Gayle doesn’t like it when the ball moves from his right eye to left.”
If Gayle could be halted by the ball moving from his right eye to left, Sandeep planned to try taking it from left eye to right for Dhoni - across their bodies – and it worked as the antidote for the master finisher.
‘’I wanted to deliver yorkers in the last over. I was bowling good yorkers at the nets. The leg side was big, but I missed my mark and bowled a couple of low full toses and both went for sixes. Then I changed my angle and it worked. I bowled over the wicket to Jadeja and I want to keep it away from his reach,’’ the former Punjab & Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler revealed later.
Sandeep’s fourth delivery was a skidder from back of length – not a bad length for Dhoni who sets himself for short balls or the full ones. It went across from leg to off and Dhoni mistimed the heave to deep mid wicket for a single. Next one, he served up a wide yorker for Jadeja and the senior allrounder could only dig it out for a single.
Five was required off last ball with Dhoni as striker, and the pressure on the bowler was understandable. A resilient Sharma again went around the wicket to slide his yorker across Dhoni, it dipped in on the off stump line and Dhoni could only tap it for a single.
A restrained Sharma put his index finger up in his celebrations. He had just won the night for the Royals – and showed there was hope for the T20 bowlers as at the death!
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