IPL 2024: ‘Cricket is turning into baseball, isn't it?,’ says Curran after historic chase against KKR

After Punjab Kings completed a record chase of 262 to secure an eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in an absolute run-fest on the back of Jonny Bairstow’s unbeaten 108

Kolkata, April 27 (IANS) After Punjab Kings completed a record chase of 262 to secure an eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in an absolute run-fest on the back of Jonny Bairstow’s unbeaten 108 and Shashank Singh’s unbeaten 68, Kings’ skipper, Sam Curran pondered “Cricket is turning into baseball, isn’t it?”

The stage was set at the iconic Eden Gardens, where Punjab Kings embarked on an audacious chase of 262 runs. Jonny Bairstow, returning to the Kings’ lineup after a stint on the sidelines, took center stage with a breathtaking display batting as he bludgeoned an unbeaten 108 off just 48 deliveries. Shashank Singh, thrust into the spotlight at No. 4, embraced the challenge with gusto, smashing an unbeaten 68 off 28 balls to cement his status as one of the season’s standout performers.

“Cricket is turning into baseball, isn’t it? It was absolutely incredible,” Curran mused at the post-match presentation. “Where do we (start)? Absolutely delighted with two points. Games like that are out of the world, but most importantly we’ve had a tough few weeks as a team [this was Kings’ first win in five games] but we’ve really hung in there. We’ve taken teams down to the wire and, I think, forget about the scores… I thought we actually deserved victory.”

Friday’s fixture also produced the most sixes (42) in a T20 match. It surpassed the 38 hits by Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad last month, and by Royal Challengers Bengaluru and SRH in Bengaluru last week.

“Yeah, I think loads of different things (have added up to this),” Curran said. “I think the way guys train is obviously huge and they can hit balls for a long period of time. I guess it’s the confidence, coaches and the way we’ve been training. Let’s be honest – small grounds with a bit of dew and the ball (gets wet) and sometimes you get a wide call. You think you’ve got a dot ball, you review it and then it’s wide. Then an extra ball. So, yeah, not saying it’s a batsman’s game but it’s showing… I’m sure everyone wants to keep seeing sixes. I think stats is definitely going out of the window. It’s all about winning those small moments.”

For Bairstow, this was a much-needed second IPL century, with his 108 coming off 48 balls and aided by eight fours and nine sixes after being dropped due to poor form. Friday’s knock boosts his chances of entering England’s squad for the T20 World Cup. He was the only player from England who has participated in the 50-over World Cup, the IPL, and the five-Test series earlier this year, and who has found it difficult to contribute during his extended stay in India.

“Try to whack it as far as possible,” Bairstow said with a smile. “I’ve never actually been in a game where 260 has been scored. Look, if it’s in your area, you gotta’ go. If you actually have a couple of quiet overs, which we actually did against Sunil [Narine, who finished with figures of 4-0-24-1]… [That was] because we know how important he is in their side and losing fewer wickets against someone like that is imperative to a chase like that.”

“Really pleased for Jonny. He’s obviously been on tour for a really long time,” Curran said. “A couple of games out of the side, he looked like he came back really eager to score runs for the team and showed what an amazing player that he is. So, I’m really pleased for him.”

Shashank’s whirlwind 68 not out came off 28 balls, laced with two fours and eight sixes in an unbroken 84-run stand for the third wicket off 37 balls, whick impressed skipper Curran a lot.

“We gave him that extra bit of responsibility to go in and No. 4 and he’s been the find of the season for us,” Curran said of Shashank. “Him and Ashutosh [Sharma] have been absolutely incredible and I’m just really pleased. Our group has been through a lot in the last couple of weeks and like I said, take two points and you’re going to enjoy those small wins. And it’s not a small win. It’s a really big win to come to Kolkata and beat that team. Proud of the team, proud of the coaches and proud of everyone.”

For Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain, Shreyas Iyer, the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, but he remained resolute in his determination to learn from the experience. “It’s a great lesson for all the players,” he remarked, his eyes already looking ahead to the next challenge. “We need to assess the conditions and come up with greater ideas.”



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