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‘Credit to Ashutosh Sharma for taking the match to the last ball,’ says Punjab Kings batsman Shashank Singh

Ashutosh Sharma of Punjab Kings
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Mullanpur: Chasing a target of 183 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League encounter at the new PCA Stadium, Mullanpur on Tuesday, Punjab Kings got off to a slow start with the bat, and found themselves needing 67 in four overs. In the middle were the two rising stars Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma, who had already showcased their tenacity and power-hitting in the previous game, leading their side to a dramatic win over the Gujarat Titans last week.

As the home crowd cheered for their Kings on every ball, the hope remained the two youngsters could do it once again for their side. With 29 runs left to chase in the final over, Ashutosh slammed a couple of sixes to put pressure on the opposition. But a good delivery from speedster Jaydev Unadkat ended Kings’ hope and despite Shashank’s last-ball six, Sunrisers won the game by 2 runs.

Earlier the Punjab Kings bowling attack did well to shackle the explosive top order of the opposition after skipper Shikhar Dhawan elected to field. Arshdeep was the star, picking up four wickets and giving away just 29 runs in his four overs, while Harshal Patel and Kagiso Rabada also maintained a low economy rate. But Nitish Reddy’s 37-ball 64 helped Sunrisers post a challenging total on a tricky batting surface.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Shashank praised Ashutosh for his power-hitting and credited him for keeping the side in the hunt till the last minute.

“We always play to win. So, we are upset whether we lose by 2 runs or 20 runs. A loss is a loss. But the way we took the game to the final ball, we have to credit Ashutosh for his innings. The way he came down and batted was brilliant. Till the last ball, we had faith and we were discussing in the middle that the chase was possible. We kept telling each other that we would be able to do it. But Unadkat managed to get that one ball that he needed to bowl to restrict us.”

The two batters scripted a partnership of 66* off 27 balls on the night, once again showcasing their on-field camaraderie. While Ashutosh remained unbeaten on 33 off 15 balls, Shashank finished on 46 not out in 25 balls. On being asked about the secret behind their tremendous partnerships, Shashank revealed how the belief shown by the team management and coaching staff has helped them gain confidence.

“We did a lot of match simulations in the pre-season Punjab Kings camp. We bat in the middle overs, so we were given a lot of scenarios. We had to chase 60-70 runs in 5 overs and we were able to do so a few times. So, we have faith and we both trust each other. Even if we need 60 runs in the final 4 overs, we feel confident we can get one big over and get the win. The credit has to be given to the coaching staff, support staff, and the management who have given us self-confidence and belief.”

The 32-year-old further opened up on the learnings from the match and said he would discuss with coaches how he can continue to improve further.

“Individually, I was able to middle the ball a lot in the game which has given me a lot of confidence. But if we are unable to get the win, then there is always scope for improvement. So, we have to discuss the same with coaches now on how we can ensure we get those crucial 2-3 runs, or which bowlers in which situations I can target to do even better. That is the learning for us,” Shashank said.

After winning the toss and electing to field the Punjab Kings bowling attack did well to shackle the explosive top order of the opposition. Arshdeep was the star, picking up four wickets and giving away just 29 runs in his four overs, while Harshal Patel and Kagiso Rabada also maintained a low economy rate. But Nitish Reddy’s 37-ball 64 helped Sunrisers post a challenging total on a tricky batting surface.

Punjab Kings
Punjab Kings

Speaking on his role for the team, Shashank said that he has to finish off the games for Punjab Kings and get the win.

“In the middle overs, our task is to take the game deep to the last over and win the game for our side. It is not possible every time. But if we can spend time on the crease, and adjust well to conditions, then it improves our chances. The more I could finish off games, the more beneficial it will be for the team,” he signed off.

Meanwhile, INR 50 lakhs were raised during the match in Mullanpur on Tuesday to the noble cause of girl child education. The M3M Foundation, in partnership with Shikhar Dhawan Foundation, has committed support to females for vocational education, and Rs 5 Lakhs will be donated for every 25 runs scored and 3 wickets taken by Punjab Kings during their home games. Through the initiative, the organisation aims to provide vocational education support to 111 girls for up to Rs. 5 Lakhs, covering a total amount of Rs. 5.55 crore over the next five years.

Punjab Kings will take on Rajasthan Royals on Saturday, April 13th at 19:30 hrs IST.

 

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