Dhawan was the lone warrior as PBKS posted 143 for 9 after being sent in to bat. Sam Curran was the next best batter with 22 as all the others scored in single digit figures.
SRH chased down the target with 17 balls to spare to seal their first win of the season. Rahul Tripathi top-scored with a 48-ball 74 not out and captain Aiden Markram chipping with an unbeaten 37 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
While Dhawan’s knock was not enough for PBKS to continue their unbeaten run in IPL 2023, the West Indies great Lara was mightily impressed by the opener’s innings.
“I must commend Shikhar Dhawan. I think it is one of the best innings I’ve ever seen in T20 Cricket,” Lara told the IPL broadcasters JioCinema. “The way he shepherd the strike and totally just controlled the game,” added the West Indian legend.
Dhawan’s stunning knock included 12 fours and five sixes. Another West Indian great Chris Gayle also agreed with Lara and said Dhawan deserved a century which he missed by just one run.
“Shikhar was fantastic for his team, and when you keep losing wickets around you, it’s never going to be easy, and to hold the steady nerves and to actually get to that particular total and get to 99 as well,” said Gayle.
“I thought he deserved a hundred and that’s one of the best innings you will ever see in the IPL as well,” added the self-styled ‘Universe Boss’.
Meanwhile, another JioCinema expert Aakash Chopra heaped praise on the way Tripathi handled pressure early on and took his side home.
“He had played a very ungainly innings to score 34 runs in the previous match in the Lucknow stadium. Anyway, sometimes you need to play these ugly innings’ to come into form. The hard work in Lucknow paid off today,” Chopra told JioCinema.
“He batted really well, despite the fact that there was slight pressure when two wickets fell and it seemed the total might get difficult to achieve, but Rahul Tripathi’s stature is growing with time.
“Last season also he had scored runs but this year, he has come as an Indian capped player now. He has secured a promotion and this responsibility as a capped Indian player suits him.”
Earlier, Mayank Markande, who ended with figures of 4 for 15 in 4 overs, played a key role in restricting the Punjab Kings to a modest total and Chopra believes he will get more such chances.
“Mayank Markande started with the Mumbai Indians and then he came around the Indian team as well. After that, he was like a passenger; he came to Delhi, then Rajasthan, and he didn’t get a chance to perform,” Chopra said.
“But here he got a chance and utilised that opportunity really well. He will get more chances like these to perform after this.”
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