Rajasthan Royals pacer Sandeep Sharma hit a new high in the Indian Premier League after his match-winning 5/18 against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024 on Monday. Not only was it Sandeep’s best bowling figures in the IPL but also his first fifer in T20s.

Perhaps what made his spell even more special was the all-round nature of it. Sandeep provided the Royals with important breakthroughs with both the new ball and the old.

Primarily known for his death-bowling prowess for the Royals, Sandeep was entrusted to bowl with the new ball by captain Sanju Samson on the night and the 30-year-old delivered in style.

“Obviously I love bowling with the new ball and if you ask me today also where I feel comfortable or happier to bowl, I would say with the new ball,” Sandeep Sharma revealed in the post-match press conference.

Sandeep Sharma struck in the second over of the match, picking up Ishan Kishan before removing the dangerous Suryakumar Yadav in the fourth over.

The Royals pacer then came back to bowl at the death and added three more scalps to his kitty, which included Tilak Varma, MI’s highest run scorer of the night.

“With the old ball, you have to adapt and evolve as a bowler. You have seen in this year’s IPL that bowlers are going for big runs, batters are coming and swinging because of this impact player rule resulting in high-scoring games,” Sandeep explained.

“So, you got to have a big heart when you are bowling in death overs and I would say just try to execute your plans, try to bowl good balls and just focus on what is in your hand,” he added.

After Sandeep Sharma’s brilliant spell restricted MI to 179/9, Yashasvi Jaiswal’s sensational unbeaten century saw the Royals pick up a resounding nine-wicket victory.

Sandeep Sharma missed the last five games for the Royals due to a side strain and was playing his first match in more than three weeks. The pacer made sure he marked his comeback match with a Player of the Match-winning performance.

“I was working hard for the last three weeks with my fitness and thanks to all my physios and the management who helped me come back,” Sandeep acknowledged.

“I had two practice sessions before this game and focused on executing all these variations which I did tonight.”

With an all-round performance against MI last night, the Royals have now won seven of their eight matches in the IPL 2024 so far and continue to top of the IPL 2024 points table with 14 points.

Sandeep also mentioned that the mood in the Royals camp is upbeat and highlighted the role played by the management including Samson and Head Coach Kumar Sangakkara in keeping the players motivated.

“They are allowing everyone to go and express themselves and I would say Sanju is doing a great job, giving a lot of freedom to his bowlers and asking them to set their fields and ball according to that,” Sandeep revealed.

“Obviously, he (Sangakkara) has played enough cricket to understand everyone’s mind and he knows how to motivate if you have not done well. Somehow, he always comes up with the right words, I am so surprised by how he does that.

However, Sandeep refused to look too far ahead and explained that the immediate focus is on winning the next match.

Rajasthan Royals play the Lucknow Super Giants in their next game at the Ekana Stadium on April 27.