Hardik Pandya says “A win is a win” after a close IPL match

While Sam Curran was "frustrated" by losing early wickets once more, he was also relieved that the middle order battled to extend the game

(Cricket news) At least when it comes to exciting thrillers, Punjab Kings is the side to watch in the Indian Premier League. This season, they have already had four final-over finishes; this Thursday’s may have been the most devastating of them. In their pursuit of 193, they were regressing – 14 for 4 in the first 2.1 overs – but once more, little-known players rose to the occasion to be recognized.

The 25-year-old Ashutosh Sharma, who had only played 14 Twenty20 matches prior to this season and made his IPL debut, almost accomplished the seemingly unachievable. At No. 8, he hit 61 off of 28 balls while batting. He was self-assured enough to get low and take down a raging Jasprit Bumrah for six.

Mumbai managed to get rid of him in the 18th over and then prevented Punjab from getting the 25 runs they still needed but they knew they’d won by the skin of their teeth.

“A very good game of cricket,” Hardik Pandya said at the presentation. “I think everyone’s nerves got tested. We did speak, before the game, that our character will be checked in this game and I don’t think anything else was there except that. [With Punjab 14 for 4 chasing 193] it was natural that you think you are ahead of the game. But at the same point of time, we knew that the IPL has a tendency to produce games like this where the opposition can make a comeback and how, and it was exactly like that.

“[Ashutosh was] unbelievable. Coming and playing like that and hitting almost every ball off the middle of the bat and at ease, knowing what he wants to do. It’s wonderful. Very happy for him, just for his future.”

Sam Curran, the stand-in captain for Punjab, was left ruing the mistakes of the top order but was proud to see the fight his side was still able to put up. “This team loves a close game. Unfortunately, another loss. I thought we did very well to get that close. Ashutosh, another incredible knock from such a young guy.

“There’s no question we’ve lost quite a lot of early wickets throughout the tournament. That’s been quite frustrating. But I guess the way the guys have managed to take the game close constantly like that… It’s obviously heartbreaking for them to get that close but it’s pretty special from some of those younger guys in the middle order.

“You see a guy like Ashutosh being able to have that power and that skill as well to go down and sweep pace bowlers. He’s just an incredible talent. The team’s incredibly lucky to have those guys playing really well. Hopefully in the next few games, we can win those close ones and you never know, we’re the team that might get that momentum.”

Punjab have two wins from seven games and are down in ninth place on the points table. “It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride,” Curran said. “Winning a game and a couple of last-over finishes. There’s a lot of positive things. I’ve got full belief in the team that we can turn this around. We’ll keep moving forward. We’ll keep the smiles. The sun will come up tomorrow and we’ll get back to training and keep working hard.”

Mumbai who are captained by Hardik Pandya, too, are in the bottom half of the table, and only the climb upwards matters to them. Not the way they do it. “We did speak in the timeout,” Hardik said, “That you know what it does not matter how good we look, we’ll make sure that we keep scrapping and we keep fighting in this game. Yes, there are a lot of areas which in the bowling we can look at and make sure that we don’t bowl those soft balls, which we gave as well. Yes, the batters kind of played really good shots but, at the same point of time, we were quite soft in certain departments and certain overs, and that kind of cost us [taking it] this far in the game but nevertheless, a win is a win.”

Also read: CSK replace injured Devon Conway with Richard Gleeson


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