While KL Rahul & Co, will have to wait for their first win, the form of Mayank was one of the biggest takeaways for the Punjab franchise.
The 29-year-old is in his 10th season with the IPL. He started his career as a white-ball specialist but found his calling in the longer format of the game, cementing his place as an Indian Test opener on the back of a strong Ranji Trophy performance. Over time, his youthful flamboyance was replaced by a measured game, the hurried shot making way for well-timed strokeplay. But, he is not a one-trick pony and has been keen to prove that.
The KXIP season opener offered him the opportunity to showcase his white-ball prowess. On Sunday night in Dubai, for the first 10 overs, Mayank was conservative and that was the need of the hour. The conditions required him to drop anchor and then accelerate the scoring. He concentrated on keeping his wicket as his teammates paraded back to the dugout at the other end. The first 20 balls he faced yielded just 13 runs. It wasn’t until the 11th over that he opened up, sweetly timing his pull shot over midwicket off Stoinis for a maximum.
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His 46-run partnership with K Gowtham for the sixth wicket changed the pace of the game as he found his rhythm. His timing was impeccable, punishing every loose ball that was hurled at him.
With KXIP needing 13 runs off the last over, Mayank began with a six. A four followed two balls later before his innings unravelled. The last-over dismissal was an anti-climax to an otherwise engaging innings.
“It really hurts to not close off the game from the situation we were in… feels terrible. We should have finished the game when we needed one run,” said a crestfallen Mayank after the match.
He found support in skipper and his Karnataka teammate KL Rahul, who praised his innings.
“He was unbelievable and to get a game that close was magical. He’s been doing well in Tests and to get the game that close again brings a lot of confidence in the group,” pointed out Rahul.
In 78 IPL innings since his debut in 2011, Mayank has 1355 runs. The numbers do no justice to the talent he has exhibited over the years.
If the opener carries this form forward in the tournament, this edition may well be the watershed season Mayank has been waiting for.