Two worthy knocks back-to-back in two games of contrasting fortunes, Bhanuka Rajapaksa seems to know how to make a statement with his bat. The Sri Lankan batter has had his fair chunk of experience with cricket, but what is it that has made him stand out this Tata Indian Premier League season?
In Punjab Kings’ first match, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajapaksa’s 43 (22) was vital in chasing down a 200+ score set by the team from Bangalore. In the second game, the hard-hitter scored a nine-ball 31, the highest and most entertaining knock from the team which saw an otherwise dismal performance.
His maturity and intent with the bat was evident in both the games. At the post match press conference, the media questioned him on what it is that he got right ahead of his debut Indian Premier League season. “I’ve not really done anything special,” he said.
“I just worked on my game a bit more. I hadn’t played cricket for almost four months before the IPL. I missed the Australian tour and the Indian series back home. I just wanted to come here and play to satisfy myself. This is all I know to do. I enjoy playing cricket and I just wanted to continue doing the good things I used to do in the past,” the Sri Lankan said with a smile.
On dealing with the loss of quick wickets
The Punjab Kings found themselves in a tough spot halfway through their innings, with the team at 84/5. Sticky situations as such can be difficult to navigate. While some might want to start hitting big right away to make the most of it, others might want to take it steady so as to not risk losing more wickets.
In the context of the previous game against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajapaksa gave an insight into what the team had planned at that point. “The plan is for us to occupy the crease as much as possible,” the batter said.
“We want to put a big score on the board. The (Kolkata) Knight Riders are a strong team, especially when it comes to batting. We knew the power of Andre Russell, the experience of Sam Billings and the class of Iyer. We wanted to bat deep, but unfortunately, we lost a couple of wickets in the middle session,” Rajapaksa explained.
“This is something we have to improve in the next game,” he said, with his eyes already set on Punjab Kings’ upcoming encounter against the Chennai Super Kings at the Brabourne Stadium. “I am sure the boys will bounce back better the next game,” he concluded. On to the big game on Sunday now.