'After Dhoni hit me for two sixes...': Sandeep Sharma on plan that outfoxed CSK captain, won RR the match

Apr 13, 2023 06:44 PM IST

RR pacer Sandeep revealed his plan that stopped a rampaging MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the last three balls of the IPL 2023 match vs CSK.

Sandeep Sharma was a bundle of nerves when Rajasthan Royals captain threw him the ball with Chennai Super Kings needing 21 off the last over. More than the runs, it was the presence of MS Dhoni at the striker's end, which worried Sandeep, it would be worrisome to any bowler in the world. Sandeep, who is no stranger to bowling the death overs in the IPL, started off with an attempted slower bouncer that went wide. Captain Samson walked up to him, shared a few words to calm him down. The next delivery was a wide down the leg side. Sandeep had gotten off to the worst possible start in perhaps one of the most difficult overs of his career.

Sandeep Sharma (L) shakes hands with MS Dhoni(IPL)
Sandeep Sharma (L) shakes hands with MS Dhoni(IPL)

He had cut down two invaluable runs from CSK's total without bowling a single legitimate delivery. With the Chepauk crowd cheering their lungs out for Dhoni, Sandeep ran in and bowled the perfect yorker. Dhoni someone dug it out but failed to score any runs from it. After a couple of wides, Sandeep made a strong comeback sort of letting Dhoni know that it won't be easy.

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The twists and turns, however, had just begun. In his second delivery, Sandeep once again tried to hit the blockhaul but missed it by a whisker. Dhoni used those incredibly strong wrists of his to flick it over fine leg for a flat six.

The pressure was right back on the 29-year-old. He attempted another yorker but missed his mark again. Dhoni, this time made a better connection to the low full toss and the ball cannoned into the advertising hoardings for another flat six. From 21 from 5, CSK now needed 7 off 3.

"Who's writing the script?" screamed Ravi Shastri in the commentary. The camera quickly took Dhoni in the frame. The legendary cricketer was captaining CSK for the 200th time and was now a couple of hits away from winning the match from an improbable situation. Fairytale ending for a once in a generation player, isn't it? Not so much as Sandeep Sharma emerged as the party-spoiler.

Also Read | BCCI slaps 12 lakh fine on RR captain Sanju Samson for Code of Conduct breach

Down but not out, he came up with the plan of changing the angle to Dhoni. "I backed my strength of executing the yorkers. I have been bowling the yorkers well in the nets. One side of the ground was bigger so I decided to bowl a yorker on the heels (of MS Dhoni) but it turned out to be low full tosses and both were hit for sixes. After that, I changed my plan and went around the wicket to change the angle and it's great it gave me a different result," he said after the match.

It worked. Sandeep did not hit the yorker but his length delivery was wide outside the off stump and Dhoni could not gather the power. The ball went to deep mid-wicket and all CSK could get was a single. Dhoni was off strike but now he had Ravindra Jadeja to deal with, a man no less dangerous with the bat. Sandeep went back over the wicket and bowled a wide yorker, Jadeja had to be satisfied with a single.

"I bowled over the wicket to Jaddu bhai (Jadeja). The idea was to pitch it out of his reach. He had hit two sixes off Jason Holder. So I thought of getting the ball away from his reach," Sandeep said.

Now, it was showtime. CSK needed 5 off the last ball and Sandeep Sharma had the ball in his hand. He switched back to round the wicket. Dhoni stood there motionless. His steely eyes fixed on the ball. Sandeep Sharma, with a truckload of pressure on his shoulders, nailed perhaps the best yorker of the match. Even Dhoni's wrists could not elevate it or generate any power to carry it to the boundary.

"For Mahi bhai, my plan was to change the angle as I had already conceded two sixes by bowling over the wicket into his heels. I wanted to bowl it wide from a different angle," Sandeep said after securing a three-run win for the Royals.

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