IPL 2024: Shashank Singh-Ashutosh Sharma duo lone bright spot in dwindling PBKS campaign | Crickit
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IPL 2024: Shashank Singh-Ashutosh Sharma duo lone bright spot in dwindling PBKS campaign

ByShalini Gupta
Apr 12, 2024 09:01 PM IST

With much of PBKS batting failing to fire, the form of Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma will be crucial for the side

Not too many would have heard of Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma beyond domestic circuit before the start of IPL 2024. Even though Sharma had made headlines for hitting the fastest T20 half-century in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy -- a 11-ball 50 against Arunachal Pradesh -- there wasn’t much buzz around the two. So much so that 32-year-old Singh's pick by Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the auction was mired in identity confusion.

Punjab Kings' Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma during the match against Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday (IPL)
Punjab Kings' Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma during the match against Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday (IPL)

But their real potential has finally been unleashed in PBKS' last two games. The duo sealed the match against Gujarat Titans with a match-winning partnership and then nearly got PBKS over the line against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a chase of 183 in their second home game in Mullanpur.

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Needing 29 runs in the last over -- bowled by the experienced Jaydev Unadkat -- against SRH, they fell two runs short of the target. They added 66 runs in 27 balls.

Praising Sharma after that game, Singh, who made a 25-ball unbeaten 46 in the match said, "Credit goes to Ashutosh the way he batted and gave me support. He has done well in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy as well. We did a lot of match simulations. We had a camp before the IPL. We used to bat at Nos. 5, 6, and 7. We were given a lot of scenarios - 60 runs from 5 overs, 70 from 5... We chased down those a lot of times. We had a lot of belief."

Singh batted at number six while Sharma batted at number eight against both GT and SRH.

"There is always a scope of improvement and we would like to work on the areas so that we can work for better results. I am happy with my form. The more I finish matches, the more beneficial it is for me," added Singh, who captained Dhawan in the DY Patil Group-managed T20 tournament in Mumbai.

Dhawan reportedly observed Singh closely and gave him an opportunity in PBKS' first match. "Shikhar bhai has been a great support. We were together in the tournament along with Dinesh Karthik. Coaches Abey Kuruvilla and Praveen Tambe made sure we were in the same team," said Singh who scored a swashbuckling unbeaten 61 (29b, 6x4, 4x6) as PBKS chased down 200 against Gujarat Titans.

Their form is significant for PBKS in the upcoming matches as their top-order and the middle-order is not firing. Skipper Dhawan and the most expensive buy in the IPL, Sam Curran, have done well in bits and pieces while Liam Livingstone's absence due to an injury has added to PBKS' batting woes. Prabhsimran Singh, Jonny Bairstow, Jitesh Sharma and Sikandar Raza have not fired either.

Nitish Kumar Reddy's promotion up the order against PBKS bore great results for SRH and a similar shift in batting order for the duo may work well for PBKS.

PBKS' bowling coach Charl Langeveldt feels that Sharma and Singh will play a crucial role in the upcoming matches for PBKS. "Both are brilliant. They have stepped up. They are going to have a great season. Their commitment levels are top-notch. PBKS will benefit from their batting this season," he said.

Meanwhile, it won't be easy for PBKS to stop Rajasthan Royals who have lost just one of their five matches and are sitting at top. PBKS, having won only two out of five matches, are at No.8 at the moment.

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