Punjab Kings (PBKS) skipper Shikhar Dhawan led the foundation of his team’s five-run victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Match 8 of the IPL 2023 at Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday (April 5).
Opening the innings, Dhawan added 90 runs for the first wicket with Prabhsimran Singh. While Prabhsimran got out in the 10th over for 60 off 34 balls, Dhawan held the one end firmly and batted till the end, returning with 86 not out off 56 balls including 9 boundaries and 3 sixes.
At one point, the southpaw was batting on 41 from 33 balls and he eventually ended his knock with a strike rate of 153.57, propelling Punjab Kings to post 197 on the board.
During Punjab’s IPL 2023 opener against KKR, Dhawan scored 40 off 29 balls as his team emerged victorious by 7 runs (DLS method).
After the game, Shikhar Dhawan said he has made a conscious effort to improve his strike rate, especially in the middle-overs.
"These two matches, we've gotten a great start playing well and I'm doing my best to increase my strike rate. The wicket brings momentum back quickly. This year we have a deep batting lineup so we keep momentum going hitting boundaries and put pressure on the other team. You have to respect that the other team has come to play and will bowl some good overs as well but we have to keep the intent and aggression going," Dhawan said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Chasing 198 to win, the Royals were blown away by Nathan Ellis (4-30) before Shimron Hetmyer (35) and 'Impact Player' Dhruv Jurel (32* off 15) forged a 62-run stand to bring them back in the contest.
However, PBKS all-rounder Sam Curran justified his hefty price tag by defending 15 runs in the last over to restrict RR to 192/7.
“Scoring 197 and then my bowlers coming and getting early wickets and keeping the pressure on and then Nathan came on and got wickets. We never let the game get out of our hands. There were some moments that were hard but I think it was a great team effort," the captain stated.
Dhawan admitted that he was nervous in the final few overs but stayed calm to come out victorious.
"There were some nervous moments but I was keeping my calm and the same with the bowlers. There was a lot of dew. The bowlers did a great job. I was happy with the score we put up. They bowled well and bowled very good yorkers," he added.
Punjab Kings will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in their next match on Sunday (April 9).