Indian Premier League

The Punjab Kings won a thriller against the Chennai Super Kings on Monday night to complete a double against the Men in Yellow with an 11-run win in the Tata IPL 2022. The game was PBKS’ first win at the Wankhede this season.

The game saw commendable performances from both the batting and bowling units. Shikhar Dhawan’s 88* (59), aided by Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 42 (32), helped the Shers put up 187/4 on a sticky wicket. Impeccable bowling from Kagiso Rabada (2/23) and Arshdeep Singh (1/23) and a good final over from Rishi Dhawan sealed the deal for the Kings.

After the match, the press interacted with Rajapaksa about the match, the impact of Sri Lankan players this season and more. Below are excerpts from the same.

On Sri Lankan players getting IPL opportunities

“First of all, praise the Lord for the opportunities that have been given to all of us. It was not the greatest last couple of years for Sri Lankan cricket. But, with the performance in the World Cup, the way the boys have played at home, I think it has opened the eyes of IPL franchises,” Rajapaksa said.

He further added, “It is a great opportunity for all of us to come here, play with the best, getting to know everyone. The exposure we get here is immense. Very happy for all the boys who got selected. I think we’ve got more talent in Sri Lanka. We will get better at it now, after a few not-so-great years for Sri Lankan cricket.”

On the plan for the night

At the halfway stage of the game, Rajapaksa had spoken about targeting a total of 150, and being more than happy with a 187/4. The team’s approach was also a restrained version of the usual full throttle strategy. The Sri Lankan batter shared his thoughts on the plan for the night.

“When Shikhar and I batted, we were planning on getting to 150 at the halfway mark because the wickets were quite sticky and it was not easy for any of the new batters to come in and settle in. We haven’t changed the Punjab Kings way. The plan will always be to come hard at the bowlers,” the explosive batter said.

“But after realising how the pitch worked, we just wanted to bat along. End of the day, it helped us. All credit goes to Shikhar bhai, the way he batted throughout the innings and the way Liam ended the game. So that’s the Punjab Kings way, like all of you know,” he revealed.

Approaching the ball on a tricky wicket and Dhawan’s innings

Rajapaksa speaks of the cautious start to the innings, unlike the teams’ earlier outings. “We had to change the way we bat on a wicket like this, especially. When I batted, I had to wait for the ball, and it was not coming on nicely to the bat. So the more we waited, I think, I was able to get the ball into the gap. I was quite fortunate in the beginning but the more I waited for the ball, the more I got the middle of the bat,” the southpaw said.

He further spoke of the importance of Shikhar Dhawan’s innings. “It was crucial for one of the top order batters to bat through the innings and as I mentioned earlier, credit to Shikhar bhai for the way he batted through the innings,” he applauded his teammate.

“It was not the greatest wicket to bat on initially when we began the game. We had a shorter side, so we all knew what to do. We had a proper plan and the way Shikhar bhai paced the innings was good. He spoke to me and said all we had to do was get a boundary ball in every over, rotate the strike, and we stuck to the plan. Hopefully Shikhar bhai will carry his form for the coming games too,” he smiled.

The next match for the PBKS will be against one of the two new teams this season, the Lucknow Super Giants, on April 29.