IPL 2023: Raza, Shahrukh help Punjab Kings underline title credentials

The Tamil Nadu cricketer who is named after Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, held his nerve in the final over with three big hits in a riveting low-scoring battle

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

 

Punjab Kings' Sikandar Raza (left) plays a shot against Lucknow Super Giants at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Saturday. — AFP
Punjab Kings' Sikandar Raza (left) plays a shot against Lucknow Super Giants at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Saturday. — AFP

Published: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 11:31 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 11:38 PM

When Bollywood music was ringing around Lucknow’s Ekana Cricket Stadium during the short break before the make-or-break final over with Punjab Kings needing seven off six balls with just two wickets in hand, it was hard to imagine what was going through Shahrukh Khan’s mind.

The Tamil Nadu cricketer who is named after Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, held his nerve in the final over against Ravi Bishnoi, the Super Giants’ crafty leg-spinner, to script a two-wicket win for Punjab with three big hits in a riveting low-scoring battle.


With the priceless unbeaten 23 off 10 balls (1 four, 2 sixes), Shahrukh proved why he would be a formidable player for the Kings this season in the Indian Premier League.

Set up by Sikandar Raza’s brilliant innings of 57 off 41 balls (4 fours, 3 sixes), Shahrukh dragged the Punjab Kings over the line after it was gasping for breath chasing 160 on a sluggish wicket.


But unlike the Bollywood hero who beat up an armada of bad boys in the recent blockbuster Pathaan, Punjab had many heroes on Saturday night.

Raza’s masterclass

On a difficult pitch to bat, Raza delivered a masterclass in the art of building a T20 innings.

The Pakistan-born Zimbabwean international also proved that his batting skills in the middle-order would play a key role in Punjab Kings’ title ambitions this season.

Without injured captain Shikhar Dhawan, Punjab Kings was in serious trouble at 45 for three in the sixth over when Raza walked out to bat.

But the man whose dream of becoming a Pakistan Airforce pilot was shattered by an eye problem, anchored the chase beautifully until he fell to the guile of Bishnoi (2.3-0-18-2).

With Raza in the middle-order and Shahrukh in the lower middle-order, Punjab will be a serious title contender when Dhawan and England star Liam Livingstone return.

Curran delivers

In Dhawan’s absence, England star Sam Curran was outstanding as the stand-in captain. With figures of 4-0-31-3, the baby-faced England all-rounder was also brilliant with the ball.

His late strikes ensured that Kings did not have a big total to chase.

Bowling depth

While Curran was fantastic, Punjab also had Arshdeep Singh (3-0-22-1) and Kagiso Rabada (4-0-34-2) to thank for their third win in the league on Saturday which moved them up to the fourth position in the points table.

Arshdeep bowled a tight line and Rabada struck in the middle overs, removing Krunal Pandya (18 off 17 balls) and the dangerous Nicholas Pooran for a golden duck.

Rahul’s strike rate

Lucknow skipper KL Rahul (74 off 56 balls, 8 fours, 1 six) scored his second half-century in his last 10 matches across formats.

While his return to form is good news, his strike rate would be under the scanner again in the next game against the Rajasthan Royals on April 19.

Hooda’s misery

Will Lucknow continue to show patience with out-of-form Deepak Hooda?

Hooda, who fell to man-of-the-match Raza (2-0-19-1) for a three-ball two on Saturday, has a highest score of 17 in his last 10 matches.

Lucknow has a big decision to make ahead of its next match.

ALSO READ:


More news from Sports