Before the match between Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad at Mohali’s IS Bindra PCA Stadium on Monday, the opening pair of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow had together scored more than 500 runs in five matches. With Kings XI Punjab skipper R Ashwin opting for medium-pacer Ankit Rajpoot to open the bowling for the hosts, it was a daunting task for the Uttar Pradesh cricketer to stop Warner and Bairstow in the power play overs.
Even though he did not pick any wicket in the match, the 26-year-old gave away only 21 runs in four overs with just six runs coming off in his first two overs. Rajpoot’s opening spell along with Mohammed Shami and Mujeeb Ur Rehman’s tight line meant that the visitors could only score 27 runs in the power play overs, and with the visitors only posting a target of 150 runs, Kings XI Punjab won the match by six wickets with a ball to spare.
“The wicket was helpful here as it had rained earlier in the day. As I am able to swing the ball, I was handed the responsibility to start the bowling. If I would have picked a wicket, it would have been great. In other matches, we had flat wickets or slow wickets and it did not help the pacers. The wicket was green here and our plan was to utilise the swing. Like other teams, we too had discussed the weak points of Sunrisers Hyderabad batsmen and the plan was to target weak areas of a batsman like David Warner. His strength has been hitting the balls going outside and I did not give him an opportunity to score in the initial overs,” said Rajpoot after the match.
Rajpoot, who started his IPL career with Chennai Super Kings in 2013, was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. The pacer was picked up by Kings XI Punjab last year. He took 11 wickets in eight matches with his best bowling figures of 5 for 14 coming against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Rajpoot has played in two matches in IPL this season and believes that getting more chances will boost his confidence. “I did not get to play in all matches this season so far. It is not difficult to come back in the team as I am ready for every match. The combination to play one more pacer was not there earlier. In this match, the team opted for Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rehman and it meant that I got a chance in the form of an Indian bowler. There was no pressure as I had the support of the coaches and captain R Ashwin. I had performed well in IPL before and was ready for this match,” said Rajpoot, who has picked up 21 wickets in 21 matched in IPL at an average of 24.61.