IPL 2024: Punjab's young Singh-Sharma pair excel

Prameyanews English

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

Ashutosh Sharma and Shashank Singh

Ahmedabad, April 5: Punjab have not been a very consistent or dominating side in the Indian Premier Leagues during the last 16 seasons. They have been giant killers, surprising winners at times, but have never reached the IPL finals.

Despite their inconsistent and patchy performances, Punjab Kings  (PBKS) have never been very desperate, hasty or crazy. They have backed their youngsters, enjoyed team camaraderie and showed enough faith in their teammates. They have some wonderful captains and players over the years.

Their team management too has always backed the players. Perhaps, for all these factors, youngsters in Punjab camp have often performed unexpectedly better.

The present bunch of players under seasoned Shikhar Dhawan's captainship, are yet another happy bunch, who seem to be enjoying each others' success.

On Thursday night, when Punjab Kings surprised Gujarat Titans by achieving a 200 runs target in 20 overs, two youngsters batted brilliantly. 

Skipper Dhawan and old warhorse Jonny Bairstow returned to the pavilion early. Their side was reeling at 70/4 at one stage. At that stage of the game, not many would have thought that against a formidable Gujarat Titans bowling attack, two Punjab youngsters can pull up a memorable comeback victory. 

But Punjab did win and proved once again why on their day, they can shock bigger teams on any surface. Such a result is bound to boost the team's morale. The stars of the PBKS win in Ahmedabad, were two emerging talents Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma.

Shashank hammered an unbeaten 61 off 29 balls, while Ashutosh made an integral contribution of 31 runs in 17 balls, as the duo backed themselves and led the charge, scripting a partnership of 43 runs in 22 balls, to chase down the mammoth total of 200 with three wickets and one ball to spare and brought the PBKS back to winning ways.

"I visualised moments like this. But turning it into reality, I am really happy and proud of myself," Shashank, the 32-year-old batting all-rounder said after the match. "I play cricketing shots more. My coaches told me that I have to watch the ball react to the ball, and play on merit."

Shashank has played 58 domestic T20s in his career and has a strike rate of 137.34. While he plays for Chhattisgarh at the national level, he has also featured for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals in the past.

"The wicket and the bounce were fantastic. I was batting against some of the legends. But when I go to bat, I have to believe I am the best. I do not look at the bowler and just react to the balls. I am grateful to Punjab management, the coaching staff, and owners for backing me during the training sessions," he added.

Meanwhile, Ashutosh, who joined the Punjab Kings this year, came out as an Impact substitute during the match and repaid the faith shown in him by the franchise on his IPL debut. His immediate success is a testament to PBKS' acute understanding of the sport and tremendous scouting of talent.

The franchise kept their eyes on the 25-year-old for the past couple of years, and while hunting for a heavy-hitter who can finish off games, King's scouting team was further impressed by Ashutosh during the trials in Mohali last November.

Ashutosh, after the match, expressed gratitude to the Punjab franchise for their constant support. "I would like to thank the team for believing in me. It feels great to give such a good performance on debut. But more than individual performance, what matters more is that our team won, and I was able to contribute to this win."

The 25-year-old, who hails from the town of Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, moved to Indore at a tender age of 10 to hone his cricketing skills. Despite limited resources, Ashutosh learned to manage everything on his own, and worked as a ball boy and an umpire to make ends meet.

In a pivotal cricketing move, the right-handed batter moved to the Railways in 2022, and smashed a remarkable 11-ball 50 in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year, shattering Yuvraj Singh's record. In an inter-railway game, he also hammered 200 in just 60 balls, and further increased the attention from Punjab Kings' scouts.

Ashutosh also credited PBKS skipper Shikhar Dhawan and Head of Cricket Development Sanjay Bangar for instilling self-belief in him. "Shikhar paaji has taught me a lot about mental aspects of things. I had faith that I would be able to do it. I also want to credit Sanjay Bangar Sir, who also backed me and has been a source of inspiration since the first training session." he signed off.

The Punjab based franchise has earlier identified a lot of young talent since its inception. In recent years, the likes of Arshdeep Singh, Prabhsimran Singh and Harpreet Brar were also picked up at the grassroot level in 2019 by Ashish Tuli, who has been associated with the team since the last 15 years and was the head of talent identification & analyst of Punjab Kings back then.

Though it is bit too early, if Punjab can reach the play-offs this season, but if under Dhawan's leadership they continue in the same fashion, they can do that as well. (With IANS support)

 

    Tags
  • Indian Premier League (IPL)
  • Gujarat Titans (GT)
  • Punjab Kings
  • Punjab Kings
  • Jonny Bairstow
  • IPL 2024
  • Shikhar Dhawan
  • Shashank Singh
  • Ashutosh Sharma

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