Shashank’s knock further evidence of IPL now having an Indian core

Shashank Singh won it for PBKS against GT (Image: IPL)

At 153-6, few gave Punjab Kings a chance, with two overs from Mohit Sharma still left. Also, it was the great Rashid Khan who was bowling the 17th over. Against such an attack, Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma, the impact sub, had a mountain to climb. It was the same Shashank whom Punjab had bid for and then wanted to cancel the deal. Eventually, after a social media backlash, they had to release a statement which said, “Punjab Kings would like to clarify that Shashank Singh was always on our target list. The confusion was due to two players of the same name being on the list. We are delighted to have him onboard and see him contribute to our success.”

Last night in Ahmedabad, Shashank paid back the faith with interest. From almost a point of no return, he played a blinder. Against the likes of Rashid and Mohit, he never looked flustered. In fact, his power-hitting meant his strike-rate, at no point, fell below 200. Yet again, it wasn’t the big-ticket foreigners that won a side the game. Rather, it was a relatively unfancied Indian who did the job. May I say, IPL 2024 is already uniquely Indian in that sense. From Harshit Rana winning it for KKR when Mitch Starc went for 53 off 4 overs, to Anuj Rawat playing a blinder for RCB, and the new sensation, Mayank Yadav, turning show-stopper to Shashank, the IPL is all about Indian youngsters making the platform their own.
As I write, Shashank Singh is trending. And for the right reasons. He is a star overnight, just like Harshit and Mayank have been this season. That’s what the IPL was always meant to be about. Hone Indian talent, and allow them an opportunity. At the Ranji Trophy level, there isn’t the same media glare. People hardly watch. Good performances don’t really get celebrated in the way an IPL performance is. And that’s why the tournament is so very important for Indian cricket. For new talent to make a mark. To be talked about and nurtured. And eventually, be noticed by the men who matter.

Shashank Singh in action (Image: IPL)

Last night, it was Shashank’s turn. The self-belief and the courage of conviction will now define him going forward. Against one of the better bowling attacks in the competition, at no point did he lose composure. Just like Mayank did not falter against the likes of Cameron Green or Faf du Plessis, Shashank never lacked self-belief against Rashid or Mohit.

Let’s decode the last ball of Mohit’s spell, as an example. The equation was 13 off 7, and a good delivery would leave 11-12 runs to get off the final over. With limited batting to come and under pressure, the match could have gone either way. A lot therefore depended on that last ball. A good hit would completely swing it Punjab’s way, whereas a good delivery would keep Gujarat in the contest. And may I say, most would have backed Mohit on current form. Shashank, however, had other ideas. He perhaps knew Mohit would try the slower short ball, and positioned himself accordingly. The extra split-second allowed him to be in control, and the swivel meant he made solid contact. As the ball sailed over the rope, Punjab had gained complete control. The shot would not have been possible had he not mentally been in control of the situation. That was what defined his innings. To go a step forward, that’s what has defined the IPL this season and made it unique.

At its core, the tournament is now fully Indian, and it gives domestic talent the best platform to shine. And with men like Mayank, Harshit or Shashank around, you will always find a star who makes the most of the opportunity.


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