Gurinder Sandhu and the Sydney Thunder celebrating a wicket (Image: @ESPNcricinfo/Twitter)

Two years ago, Gurinder Sandhu was a local replacement player for the Sydney Sixers after not receiving a new contract from the Thunder.

On Tuesday night, Sandhu became the difference for the lime green on the opening night of BBL|12.

It wasn’t the easiest game to watch for spectators wanting to see high quality batting, but there wasn’t much that Sandhu did wrong in a ‘Player of the Match’ performance. 

Firstly with the ball, Sandhu hit the deck hard and restricted the Stars’ batters from making clean strokes on a cold night in Canberra. 

Sandhu claimed the wickets of opener, Joe Clarke and English recruit, Luke Wood at the bookends of the first innings.

This led to what was initially thought to be a comfortable run-chase for the Thunder, instead, the game went down to the final ball and there was one person for the job.

Six balls remaining, three wickets in hand and eight runs needed to win. That was the situation the Thunder faced.

Two balls later, the Thunder still needed eight runs to win, but they only had one wicket in hand.

Batting at number 11, Brendan Doggett could have squeezed two from his first ball faced, however Sandhu had other ideas. 

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Sandhu took the one, and needing seven to win with the three balls left, he shouldered the responsibility, loaded up and sent the next ball over the boundary for a major.

“I just tried to keep it really simple,” Sandhu said after the match. 

“Stay still, watch the ball and just react after that. I think when you do that, if you talk to batsmen, that’s when they bet their best, they just watch the ball and then rely on instincts for the rest of it. 

“I just thought, to give myself the best chance to hit this ball in the middle of my bat, I have to stay pretty still and watch it pretty hard.”

“I definitely knew the new batter with the new rule, the new batsman would have to come in and face that ball. So after that I sort of signalled to the dugout, I said ‘hopefully if all goes through, he gets off strike first ball and then there’s four balls left, do you want me to face all four and not take a single?’

“So I was kind of in that mind frame and then he got out and then Doggie (Brendan Doggett) came out to bat and then he was like ‘yeah man, I’m getting off strike and you can have the last three’ basically, that was kind of the chat.”

Sandhu’s performance continues the strong form he’s been in from all formats, also playing an important role for the Queensland Bulls in the Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup.

“I’m 29 now. I think that 27, 28, 29 (years of age) is when people start to actually play their best cricket, 

“Whether it’s maturing in life, on the field and off the field, or whether it’s just, I don’t know why, 

“I think you just start to understand your game yourself a bit more and what works for you and just backing yourself and doing that.

“So I think, definitely last two years, that’s sort of what I’ve been doing and thankfully it’s been paying off.”

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