Mayank Agarwal seems to be relishing the challenges of captaincy. And in pressure situations, as his team faced against Mumbai Indians in Pune on Wednesday, he led by example.
Agarwal’s captaincy in the end overs, keeping a cool head and having faith in his bowlers, was rewarded with a fine 12-run win. He himself showed the way by holding two catches in the last over. He also had a hand in dismissing the highly-skilled Tilak Verma through a run out earlier in the MI run chase,
The way Agarwal has led in this IPL has given the belief that PBKS can be a contender for the play-offs. Three wins in his first five matches as skipper are not a bad start to someone leading for the first time in IPL.
Agarwal’s belief in his bowlers to come back strong is an encouraging sign for his team. For instance, any captain would be tempted to take out the bowler who has conceded 29 runs. On Wednesday, his leg-spinner Rahul Chahar was hit for 29 runs in his first over, 28 of them by Dewald Brevis in a sequence that began with a four straight past the bowler followed by four successive sixes in the long-on region.
Agarwal brought Chahar back into the attack soon and the leg-spinner gave away only 15 in his other three overs.
And, after what happened in their previous match against Gujarat Titans, Agarwal believed Odean Smith to defend 22 runs in the final over. And, Smith did not disappoint this time.
Not only on the field was Agarwal inspiring but he also set the stage for PBKS’ win with a punishing 52 off just 32 balls with six fours and two sixes. He dominated the 97-run opening partnership with senior batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who helped himself to 70.
Agarwal went on the offensive from the start, cutting Basil Thampi for a four behind square on the off side and followed it with another four in front of square on the off side in the first over. He was lucky when, on 10, a powerful hit off Jasprit Bumrah went over the cover fielder for four.
It was when Murugan Ashwin came in the fifth over that Agarwal stepped on the accelerator, hitting the leg-spinner for two fours and a six over long-off. Another six off left-arm pacer Tymal Mills brought up his first fifty of the season, and 12th of his IPL career. In going for his third six, he failed to connect properly and holed to long-off for Suryakumar Yadav to hold on to it.
Agarwal clearly set up the tone for PBKS reaching 198 for five. In doing so, he also put aside his three consecutive run of poor scores after beginning the season with 32 against RCB.
In a match that changed fortunes frequently and that had quite a few other standout individual performances, Agarwal stood tall. Deservedly he was named man of the match, not only for his batting but also for his overall captaincy.