Updated April 19th, 2024 at 15:01 IST

Ashutosh Sharma was unbelievable, our nerves were tested: MI skipper Hardik

Punjab Kings' cricketer Ashutosh Sharma's exploits with the willow drew enormous praise from Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya as well as his team's stand-in captain Sam Curran, with the former terming it an "unbelievable" display.

ashutosh sharma punjab kings | Image:ipl/bcci

 Punjab Kings' cricketer Ashutosh Sharma's exploits with the willow drew enormous praise from Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya as well as his team's stand-in captain Sam Curran, with the former terming it an "unbelievable" display.

Ashutosh and Shashank Singh have emerged as the unlikely heroes for Punjab Kings this IPL season but the failure of the top-order has seen the team slump to ninth spot in the IPL table despite the some breathtaking performances from the duo.

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On Thursday, Ashutosh virtually took the game away from Mumbai Indians with his 28-ball 61 before PBKS lost by nine runs chasing 193.

Ashutosh also executed a stunning sweep shot against pacer Jasprit Bumrah, something which has not been done quite often against India's pace spearhead.

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"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, not about how we look, we will keep fighting and make sure (that) we don't bowl the soft balls. Batsmen played good shots but we were soft in certain overs," Pandya said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

The MI skipper heaved a huge sigh of relief with a close win, stating that every player's nerves got tested in the game.

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"(It was a) very good game. Everyone's nerves got tested. We spoke that the characters will be checked in this game. But (it is) natural (that) you (would) think you are ahead but IPL has a tendency to show that oppositions can come back and how," Pandya added.

Punjab Kings' stand-in captain Sam Curran said it was heartening to see youngsters like Ashutosh and Shashank rising to the occasion, despite losing some close matches in the recent past.

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"Another close one, I think this team likes a close one, but unfortunately another loss. Another incredible knock from the young guy (Ashutosh), but another close loss," he said.

"It's very tough. We have lost a lot of wickets at the start, the way the younger guys have taken the team so close is heartening." "They have incredible confidence, you see a guy like Ashutosh having the confidence to play the sweeps and the big hits against pacers, it's so great to watch them in action," Curran said.

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The Englishman said there were a lot of positives to take from such close defeats.

"It's disheartening to lose close games, but there are a lot of positives in this team. We still have the belief in us, we believe we can turn this around, the sun will come up tomorrow and we will hopefully get on a winning run," Curran said.

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The player of the match Jasprit Bumrah, who bowled a brilliant spell of 3/21 said it was a much closer game than he anticipated.

"(It was a) much closer game than what we thought. (I) want to make an impact early on. In this format, ball swings for two overs, and you want to make use of that," he said.

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Bumrah said the T20 format is cruel for bowlers and is tilted in favour of batters. "This format is a little difficult for the bowlers because the batsmanship is going over, plus the time restrictions and the Impact Player rule. What you can do is prepare your best and back yourself," he said.

"Go out there and give your best. I try to relay messages from wherever I am on the field. You don't want to give too many messages," Bumrah added.

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Published April 19th, 2024 at 15:01 IST