Shashank Singh’s journey in the Indian Premier League with Punjab Kings did not get off to the best of starts. During the auction in December 2023, there was confusion towards the end of the accelerated auction with the Kings seemingly trying to back out of buying Singh.

The team clarified later on that the confusion stemmed from two Shashank Singhs in the player pool and that they bought the player they had always wanted to buy.

Singh, to his credit, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was “all cool” and thanked the team for trusting him.

On Thursday, Singh repaid the Kings’s trust in him by smashing an unbeaten 29-ball 61 to guide the Kings to a three-wicket win over the Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad.

Chasing 200 runs, Singh along with fellow uncapped player Ashutosh Sharma (31 runs off 17 balls) stitched together a 43-run stand off 22 balls for the seventh wicket to complete a stunning win for the Kings.

Earlier, the Gujarat Titans posted 199/4 from their 20 overs with captain Shubman Gill leading from the front with an unbeaten 48-ball 89. Rahul Tewatia played a handy cameo scoring 23 runs off eight deliveries to spur the home side late on.

Turning point of the match

After being smacked for two sixes to start the 15th over, Rashid Khan hit back to get rid of the dangerous Jitesh Sharma. The big-hitting wicketkeeper-batter departed with the Kings requiring 50 runs off the last four overs.

The Kings replaced pacer Arshdeep Singh with the unheralded Ashutosh Sharma. The 25-year-old batter looked tentative early on.

With Ashutosh on three, the wily Mohit Sharma bowled a slower short ball which Ashutosh could only pull towards deep backward square leg. Umesh Yadav had the simplest catches to complete but ended up getting off balance and dropping the ball.

Ashutosh made full use of his reprieve by hitting 28 runs from his next 12 balls and taking the Kings to the cusp of victory.

The Field's player of the match

Over the years, the IPL has made overnight stars of many an unheralded player. On Thursday night, it was Shashank Singh’s turn to make a name for himself.

The 32-year-old batter is with his fourth IPL team and has only played 14 matches so far. He finally made the world sit up and finally take notice with a well-crafted unbeaten 61 to take the Kings to an unlikely win.

Singh came to the middle in the ninth over after the Kings had lost their top order for 71 runs and needing 129 runs from 11 overs. He survived a close leg before wicket call off Noor Ahmad’s bowling before promptly hitting the Afghan spinner for a huge six off the next ball.

The Chhattisgarh batter brought up his first IPL half-century in 25 balls and capped it off by leading his side to an unlikely win.

‘React to the ball’

Five years after being first bought by an IPL team, Singh finally arrived on the big stage. Coming out to bat in a high-pressure situation, the 32-year-old batter did not let nerves get to him and played a mature knock.

Up against a bowling attack which had reached back-to-back finals, Singh trusted his instincts and skills to get the job done for his side.

“Still trying to sink in. I visualised all these things before the match but turning it into reality, (I am) feeling proud of myself. I play cricketing shots more. It was just about reacting to the ball. That is what also coach told me. Normally I bat at seven but today I batted at five. Our coach told me to just react to the ball. They (Titans bowlers) are the legends of cricket, but when I go to bat I feel that I am the best. So I don’t see the bowler, I just see the ball.”

— PBKS’s Shashank Singh
Points table after the match on April 4 | Screenshot via Jio Cinema