Punjab Kings (PBKS) wicketkeeper-batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who had earlier withdrawn his retirement from international cricket, said that he was told to do so by the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board.
Rajapaksa has been in blistering form for PBKS in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, as he has scored a total of 75 runs in just two matches, at a strike rate of 238.70.
He played a powerful knock of 31 runs off just 9 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Friday, here at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
“I had to withdraw my retirement letter because I was told to do so by SLC, as I could serve the country more. It’s just that I am all same, I have been fit with my running. I only got issues with my skin folds because of which I could not represent my country and meet the fitness standards,” said Rajapaksa during a post-match press conference.
“I worked on my game a bit more. I haven’t played cricket for almost about four months, till I came to IPL because I missed out on the Australia tour and later the India series back home. So, I wanted to come here and satisfy myself. I love playing cricket and would continue doing things that I have been doing in the past,” he added.
Andre Russell’s unbeaten knock of 70 from 31 balls helped KKR score 141/4 in 14.3 overs in reply to PBKS 137 to register a six-wicket victory and make a mockery of the chase here at Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
“The plan for us was to occupy the crease for a long time and put up a good score on the board. As we knew that Knight Riders are a very strong team and we know the power of Russ (Russell) and Billings. But unfortunately, we lost some wickets in the middle and that’s where we need to work on. I am sure the boys will bounce back in the next game,” said the wicketkeeper-batter.
PBKS were bowled out for a modest 137 in 18.2 overs as Umesh Yadav bagged four wickets for 23 runs to earn the ‘Player of the Match’ award.
Punjab started off aggressively despite losing their captain Mayank Agarwal in the very first over to Umesh Yadav but Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 31-run knock-off 9 balls helped 2014 finalists reach the 50-run mark in just 4.4 overs.
The two-time champions KKR got wickets at regular intervals and did not allow any partnership to flourish.
Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy bowled eight overs among themselves and conceded only 37 runs with Chakaravarthy conceding only 14 in his four overs. (ANI)