The Punjab Kings won their Tata Indian Premier League 2022 opener chasing down a massive 206-run target set by the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday night. The win gave the team two big points to announce their arrival this season.
While one may argue that the victory was orchestrated by a thumping batting performance, led by Odean Smith’s 25* (8), Shikhar Dhawan’s 43 (29) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 43 (22), we cannot forget Rahul Chahar’s impressive debut in the PBKS colours.
The leggie was the only bowler across the two teams to register an economy rate of under six in this match, at 5.5. His numbers, 4-0-22-1, tell a tale of how well he can keep the batters under pressure even when they are otherwise sending the ball away with ease.
Chahar addressed the media in the post-match press conference, where he allowed a peek into the team’s mindset ahead of the season and during the first match. “From the practice sessions, the team had a very positive environment. The playing XI combination gelled together really well, and we all played with a belief that we could win,” the youngster explained.
“After my injury in South Africa last year, I trained hard at the academy in Agra and at the NCA to up my game and maintain fitness,” the Rajasthan player said. “I have also worked on my batting. Given how competitive games are getting nowadays, you need to find new ways to contribute to the team,” he added.
“I think when the bowlers took the field, we all knew it was a tricky wicket for us. While their batters hit us around the field, we never felt like we could not chase it down, and were not disheartened by the total,” Chahar explained.
Smith had also echoed that sentiment in the post-match presentation ceremony, where he was named the Player of the Match. “We were stressing on having a good start. We needed to have that belief. Didn’t go down well with the bowling, but I delivered with the bat to make the team win. Punjab hasn’t won the title so far but we need to have that belief. We watched ‘14 Peaks’, and 13 remain for us now.”
“This win is a huge confidence booster,” Rajapaksa concluded, which the motivated unit will carry into the next game of the season. Punjab Kings will face the Kolkata Knight Riders at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Friday, April 1.