IPL 2024: Arshdeep Singh lone bright spot for Punjab Kings

The left-arm seamer’s four-fer in vain as Hyderabad beat Punjab by 2 runs to get ahead in the mid-table congestion
Punjab Kings bowler Arshdeep Singh, captain Shikhar Dhawan and teammates celebrate the wicket of Sunrisers Hyderabad batter Travis Head
Punjab Kings bowler Arshdeep Singh, captain Shikhar Dhawan and teammates celebrate the wicket of Sunrisers Hyderabad batter Travis HeadPTI photo

CHENNAI: Arshdeep Singh was at the top of his mark, ready to run in with the new ball against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kagiso Rabada had already bowled the first over, and now it was Arshdeep’s turn against the destructive opening duo of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma.

Up until that point, the Punjab Kings pacer’s figures in the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League read 2/28, 0/40, 2/30 and 0/33. Four wickets in as many games for 131 runs might not sound as bad for many, but for Arshdeep, it did. He is an international pacer and has been a regular for them in the shortest format, especially death overs. In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, it was the Punjab pacer the team had turned to.

However, there were concerns. He had been inconsistent. Then there is the belief that the other pacers seem to be upskilling while Arshdeep has stagnated a bit. His economy lingering a little over nine runs per over surely did not help the cause either. The left-arm seamer had a point to prove; show everyone why he is as highly-rated by the franchise as well as the national team.

The first ball Arshdeep delivered was against Abhishek, the left-hander had a go at it, getting an inside edge. The ball missed the stumps and ran to the fine-leg fielder. Three balls later, Abhishek would get the width he wanted and slice the pacer over point to the ropes. While Arshdeep conceded a solitary boundary, Rabada, in the next over, went for three fours off Head. SRH had raced to 26/0 in three overs.

When it comes to SRH, the message has been clear at the top. Head and Abhishek are going to come out all guns blazing no matter what. They have been the most destructive opening pair of the season. It seemed like Tuesday was going to be no different with SRH maximising the powerplay.

Arshdeep came back for his second. First ball, a quick single from Abhishek and Head was back on strike. This time, the left-arm pacer pitched it fuller, Head tried to go across, but ended up slicing it on the off-side. Skipper Shikhar Dhawan ran back from mid-off and completed the rest. Arshdeep let out a roar. He knew the kind of damage Head (21 from 15 balls) could have made.

However, the battle was not over. In came Aiden Markram, another overseas batter who likes pace. The South African, along with Heinrich Klaasen, has been the pillar of SRH middle-order. Arshdeep wanted to double down. He kept it full, swinging it away from Markram, who drove it to short extra cover. With the pitch sticking up a bit, Arshdeep pulled back the length, keeping it on the shorter side.

The movement remained, once again, shaping away from Markram. The South African, stuck on his feet, edged it to Jitesh Sharma behind the stumps. Two overs, eight runs, two wickets. He had done his part, reducing SRH to 28/2. While Sam Curran picked up two wickets, Nitish Kumar Reddy (64 off 37) kept the innings going. He, along with Abdul Samad, ensured the run-rate remained over nine.

Arsheep came back for the 17th and he was welcomed by Samad, who guided a wide yorker to the ropes. He kept at the same length — full and wide — and Samad tried to slice it, but he had no control. Harshal Patel, placed perfectly for the shot, collected the ball at deep backward point as Samad took the long walk back for 25 from 12 balls. Two balls later, Nitish tried to launch a full toss into the stands but he did not get the distance and Arshdeep had a four-fer, sending back the two set batters in the same over.

Although he went for 15 runs in his fourth, Arshdeep still finished with 4/29 — the only bowler to concede less than 30 runs in the innings. Sunrisers might have posted 182/9 and beat PBKS by two runs. But Tuesday was about Arshdeep. One can only hope that he can keep up the consistency for the rest of the season. Brief scores: SRH 182/9 in 20 ovs (Nitish 64, Arshdeep 4/29) bt PBKS 180/6 in 20 ovs (Shashank 46 n.o).

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