The mere sight of Mahendra Singh Dhoni standing with his bat in his hand at the striker’s end can send shivers down the spines of even the best of the bowlers, let alone a rookie who is yet to play an international game.
What makes it even tougher is when it is the last over and Dhoni is chasing a total.
Chasing 176, Rising Pune Supergiant needed 11 runs from the last over against Sunrisers Hyderabad- an easy task considering the fact that Dhoni was looking in his elements.
Just four days ago, Siddarth Kaul had defended the same scoreline in the final over against Kings XI Punjab. The only difference was that he bowled at Ishant Sharma and Sandeep Sharma in the previous counter and this time he had to get the better of Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary.
The right-arm pacer would have made a perfect start to the over had Rashid Khan not dropped Tiwary’s shot which went for a four. Kaul pulled back things by conceding five runs in his next four balls.
But with two needed off the final ball, Dhoni clobbered a four through the extra-cover to break the bowler’s heart and take his team home. However, Kaul is not too disappointed after being on the receiving end of Dhoni’s fireworks and is instead taking it as an important lesson which he thinks will make a better bowler.
“It is very challenging to bowl at Mahi bhai when he is in blazing form. I tried different variations and changed the field placements, but he just went after the bowlers and snatched the match from us,” Kaul told Hindustan Times.
He further said how Dhoni praised him after the match.
“Acha ball kar raha hai tu. Pace bhi bhadd gaya hai tera aur yorkers bhi ache jaa rahe hain. Aise hee sharp ball rakh.” (You have been bowling well. The pace has increased and your yorkers are also accurate. Keep bowling sharply like this),” Kaul revealed.
Kaul, who was a part of the victorious 2008 India U-19 World Cup team in Malaysia led by Virat Kohli, said that his team management has shown immense faith in him by asking him to bowl the last over in the last three games.
“Warner knows me since we played together for Delhi Daredevils. Yuvi paaji has seen me bowl for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy in the last three-four years. So, he has best idea about my capabilities. In fact, he has been pushing me to go out there and bowl to my strength,” he said
“There are far more established bowlers in the team, still they have shown faith in me by giving the last over, that too in a T20 format,” he added.
Speaking about what helped him to do well in pressure situations, he said:
“The mental toughness has helped me execute my skills, especially in the crunch situations. There have been injuries and selection disappointments which reflect in your performance. To let go of such mental blocks, I took to mental conditioning.”
Kaul will have a chance to prove himself once again when the defending champions take on Kings XI Punjab on Friday (April 28).