R Ashwin lauds RR unsung hero after win over LSG at IPL 2024: I went for 12 runs

Rajasthan Royals' Ravichandran Ashwin (C) celebrates with teammates

R Ashwin said the pitch behaved differently in the two halves of the game.

For Ravichandran Ashwin, death-overs specialist Sandeep Sharma is an unsung hero. While the established batters and stars hog limelight, sometimes performances like the one by Sandeep on Sunday against LSG go unnoticed. Sandeep came into the attack only in the 14th over and at a stage wherein Lucknow looked in control of the chase, needing 65 to win from six overs chasing 194 set by the Royals.

Giving away a mere five runs in his first over, Sandeep broke the threatening stand between KL Rahul (58) and Nicholas Pooran (64 not out), accounting for the LSG skipper in a fine spell of 3-0-22-1.

The right-arm seamer also kept it largely tight in the penultimate over of the game with LSG needing 38 from the last two, giving away only 11 runs while also nearly producing another wicket.

Ashwin said a 'bowler for a fight' is way more valuable than skills at times and Sandeep proved so, having done well in last season too when he helped Royals secure a three-run win against Chennai Super Kings despite MS Dhoni hitting two sixes in his final over.

"The game is built by perception. Sandeep has been an unsung hero. He stepped up for Prasidh (Krishna) last year," Ashwin said after Rajasthan won by 20 runs.

"He (Sandeep) is a character; it's about the fight they have. A bowler for a fight is way more valuable than a bowler with a skill. There are two bouncers to be used, and that's the only fillip the bowlers have got in this competition," he added.

Ashwin said the pitch behaved differently in the two halves of the game.

"It was a wicket of two halves. When we batted first, it stuck in the pitch. Sometimes it is tough...,” he said.

"After the eight-over mark, we felt the wicket was a good one. In our view, we were ten (runs) short. It was a good pitch; it tends to get better here," Ashwin said.

The ace spinner said it was a tough start for him to give away 15 runs in his first over but he knew he had to shift gears at different stages of the game.

"I went for 12 (runs) off the first ball I bowled. I bowl in different stages of the game. The body is ageing. (It) requires (a) different mindset,” he said.

"I came from a Test series. I went for 15 (runs) in the first over — that was inside the powerplay. The moment that phase of the game is done, I try to shell it away.”

“The next three overs of mine went for 20, and I got a wicket... Most importantly, (it is about) preparing for every single batter in the opposition,” Ashwin added.