IPL 2024: MP boy fashions Punjab win with special 'impact'

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 05, 2024 IST

Ashutosh Sharma

New Delhi, April 5: With 41 runs required off 18 deliveries, Punjab Kings' hopes of winning the match against Gujarat Titans on Thursday night were almost over. Shashank Singh was batting on 46 but the Kings needed a special innings from debutant Ashutosh Sharma, who was introduced as an Impact Substitute, to clinch the match for them.

The debutant, who came in as a substitute for pacer Arshdeep Singh, left no stone unturned and went on to seal victory for the Kings with a brilliant cameo. Ashutosh came into bat after Jitesh Sharma had smoked two back-to-back sixes off Gujarat Titans' premier bowler Rashid Khan before getting out. Ashutosh got off the mark with a single and only scored seven off the first seven deliveries he faced.

At that juncture, no one would have thought Punjab would go on to seal victory with three wickets and one ball left, especially with Mohit Sharma bowling the 19th over. Azmatullah Omarzai who bowled the 18th over of Punjab’s inning was the second most expensive bowler for Titans in the match. He had conceded 16 runs and the match shifted to Punjab’s favour. Ashutosh struck three boundaries in the over and reached a personal score of 22 in 12 deliveries. It was a big over that fetched 18 runs for Punjab, leaving them needing 25 off the last 12 deliveries.

In the 19th over, Ashutosh smoked Mohit for a six off the second ball before ending it with a few more lusty hits, taking off 18 runs. Ashutosh got out on the very first delivery of Darshan Nalkande's final over, but it was an impactful inning that PBKS needed in the moment. Ashutosh eventually scored 31 off 17 deliveries and stitched together a match-winning partnership of 43 with Shashank Singh.

“I prefer playing attacking shots and when I reached the crease, the team needed that from me. We (Ashutosh and Shashank Singh) both were talking about how to get closer to the target and we started to take our chances. There was nothing in the plan to attack any particular bowler, with every loose delivery we were trying to collect as many runs as possible. Omarzai was not bowling with pace and was continuously bowling outside off so it was easy to collect boundaries off his deliveries. After three boundaries in his over we realised that we could take the game deep and can win from here,” Ashutosh Sharma told IANS in a roundtable interaction.

However, making it to the IPL is never easy. Ashutosh's selection was on the back of good domestic performances, which included the 16-year-old record for the fastest fifty by an Indian back in October 2023, smashing an 11-ball half-century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament Group C clash against Arunachal Pradesh in Ranchi.

Born in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, Ashutosh admired local boy Naman Ojha and had a close relationship with him. Ashutosh made his List A debut for M.P. back on October 2018 against Rajasthan and represented M.P. in 2019 for the last time. It took him four years from there on to make his First-Class debut -- not for his home state but for the Railways. In his debut match, Ashutosh scored 123 against Gujarat in the Ranji season 2024.

Ashutosh revealed that, despite his strong performance in the previous season and the selection trials, he was unhappy when he was left out of MP's squad. He revealed that despite his strong on-field performances, the new coach, Chandrakant Pandit did not like him and left him out. In 2020, Chandrakant Pandit, the current IPL coach for Kolkata, became MP's coach. In 2021–2022, MP went on to win the Ranji Trophy.

“In 2019, I scored 84 runs in my last game for Madhya Pradesh in T20, and that same year a professional coach came in and he did not like me. In the selection trials also, I scored around 90-odd runs off 40-45 balls, but I wasn’t selected when the team for Syed Mushtaq Ali was announced in the evening. So, I really went into depression at that time since I had performed very well that year. We had also played Under-23 and I had scored 200 runs in four matches,” said Ashutosh.

On Friday, he thanked Railways for their support and said that MP's new coach had entirely ostracized him from the team and hadn't told him what mistakes he was making.

“In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, we played six matches, and I scored three half-centuries. Next year, the professional coach came in and he made me sit on the bench. That was the time of COVID-19, so only 20 people would travel, and I would stay at the hotel.

"So, I was in the hotel for 1-2 months and I went into a depression since I didn’t even get to see the ground. I would just go to the gym and come back to my room. I got very irritated at that time and went into depression, thinking about what had suddenly happened, and what wrong had I done, no one even told me what mistakes I was making. I was just shunned out of the setup,” said Ashutosh.

Ashutosh was roped in by Punjab Kings for a Rs 20 lakh base price in the IPL auction held in 2023. He finally made his debut on Thursday (April 4) and made an immediate impact. The aim now for him will be to continue in the same vein and cement his place in the Playing XI. (IANS)

    Tags
  • Indian Premier League (IPL)
  • Gujarat Titans (GT)
  • Punjab Kings
  • Punjab Kings
  • IPL 2024
  • Ashutosh Sharma

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