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regular-article-logo Friday, 31 May 2024

Indian Premier League: Sweep off the best, Punjab Kings' Ashutosh Sharma lives his dream

The 25-year-old Punjab Kings batter put the Bumrah-led Mumbai Indians bowling to the sword on Thursday when he hammered seven sixes and two fours to make 61 off 28 balls, a knock which threatened to inflict a surprise defeat on Hardik Pandya's team

Our Bureau, PTI Mullanpur Published 20.04.24, 10:33 AM
Punjab Kings’ Ashutosh Sharma during his blistering innings on Thursday.

Punjab Kings’ Ashutosh Sharma during his blistering innings on Thursday. PTI

When someone dreams to "hit a sweep shot" against Jasprit Bumrah, that tells a lot about the person's approach to batting. Ashutosh Sharma has turned heads with his daredevilry with the bat.

The 25-year-old Punjab Kings batter put the Bumrah-led Mumbai Indians bowling to the sword on Thursday when he hammered seven sixes and two fours to make 61 off 28 balls, a knock which threatened to inflict a surprise defeat on Hardik Pandya's team. Punjab, however, lost the plot after Ashutosh's dismissal to lose the game by 9 runs chasing a 193-run target.

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It was in the 13th over of Punjab's chase when Ashutosh got down on his knees to convert an attempted yorker from Bumrah into a full toss and smacked it for a six over backward square leg.

"It was my dream to hit a sweep shot against Bumrah. I was practising for that shot but it came against the best bowler in the world... it is a part of the game," Ashutosh said after the match.

The right-handed batter has been one of the finds this season. For that, he credits Sanjay Bangar, head of cricket development at Punjab Kings.

"Sanjay Sir told me that I am not a slogger and that I can play proper cricket shots. It was a small statement but carried a huge meaning for me. I am only following it – I am not a hard-hitter, I am playing proper cricketing shots and that is what has changed my game," Ashutosh said.

"Back home, I was working with my coach Amay Khurasiya, who had told me that the longer you stay on the pitch, the more your team has a chance of winning," he added.

The Mumbai Indians camp was nervous when Ashutosh went on the rampage.

"Unbelievable, playing the way he (Ashutosh) did and hitting the ball off the middle. (It is) great for his future. We did speak in the timeout about it... Everyone's nerves got tested," Mumbai captain Hardik Pandya said.

Mumbai pacer Gerald Coetzee said: "He really brought it to us. We just wanted to be really clear tactically what we wanted to do... But it was tense, as I think everyone saw."

Ashutosh said he was confident of taking Punjab over the line, though eventually it did not turn out like that. "I had belief in myself that I would be able to win the game for the team," he said.

Bumrah factor

While Ashutosh may have enjoyed his swept six off Bumrah, the speedster was brilliant in the game once again as he dismissed Sam Curran, Rilee Rossouw and the dangerous Shashank Singh.

But former Australian cricketer Tom Moody feels Mumbai Indians did not use Bumrah wisely and that allowed Punjab Kings back into the game.

"Again, Mumbai leaning on him so much to turn their fortunes around. He bowled two overs early on and had the Punjab Kings on their back. But, interestingly enough, he didn't bowl another over until the 13th," Moody said.

"He's at the peak of his powers at the moment. And that's my point... of where I think the Mumbai Indians let the Punjab Kings back into this contest."

Hardik's captaincy has faced criticism multiple times this season. The Mumbai Indians skipper isn't having a good time. He has also been fined Rs 12 lakh for his team maintaining a slow over-rate during Thursday's game.

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