Kings XI Punjab's Sandeep Sharma has been backing his strength to swing the new ball to achieve success against top batsmen in the IPL. Sandeep, who opens the bowling for Kings XI, said after their eight-wicket win against Royal Challengers Bangalore that his thinking is to stick to his plans and not worry about getting hit.
"I am backing my strength which is to swing the ball," Sandeep told iplt20.com. "I have discussed and worked with Virender Sehwag regarding field placements. He has helped me and talked to me about what the placements should be with the new ball, since only two fielders are allowed outside the circle, and how to use them effectively. I am doing that, and so far it has been working well.
"I had spoken about my plans in the team meeting as well as with Viru paaji. The thing is most batsmen struggle against swing; so he told me to back my strength which is swinging the ball."
Sandeep opened the bowling with Axar Patel on Monday and bowled a stifling first spell of 3-0-7-1 during which he dismissed Vishnu Vinod for 7. Once Axar dismissed Shane Watson in the first over, AB de Villiers was the only batsman to collect a boundary in Sandeep's opening spell in which the medium-pacer bowled 14 dot balls. Sandeep revealed how they had planned for Watson's wicket and said getting some backing from the team management helped him.
"I was to bowl my heart out and not think about getting hit," he said. "Also, I was told never to think about losing my place in the side or being asked to sit out [if I went for runs]. Viru paaji backs [his players] a lot.
"We had our plans. Watson doesn't play too well against left-arm spinners; so [Glenn] Maxwell thought that we could give the first over to Axar and it was good that he got us the wicket."
Kings XI included four frontline pace-bowling options against Royal Challengers with an additional option of allrounder Marcus Stoinis. Even though they restricted the flow of runs by reducing Royal Challengers to 22 for 3 in the early overs, de Villiers' return to the side with an unbeaten 89 off 46 balls helped them post 148 for 4. De Villiers struck sixes in each of the last five overs and was particularly harsh against Sandeep in the 19th over, scoring 18 from the five balls he faced.
"I am not too worried about the death overs; even today the way I bowled, I was executing what I was thinking and planning," Sandeep said. "AB de Villiers is one of the best batsmen in the world and he even hit some of my good balls. It's okay. I am executing what I am thinking about. On a different day, against a different batsman, things might be different.
"We had made our plans for him. We tried to execute our plans, but he scored against us. He is one of my favourite batsmen, so I am happy for him also."
Sandeep has taken three wickets so far in two matches, conceding 59 runs in his eight overs at an economy rate of 7.37, the best among the Kings XI pacers who have played both their matches.