IPL 2024: We are still in the playoffs race, says PBKS pacer Harshal Patel after CSK defeat

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Dharamsala, May 5 (IANS) Punjab Kings went down by 28 runs against the five-time winner Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League encounter here on Sunday. However, speedster Harshal Patel feels they are still in the race for the playoff spots.

After electing to bowl, Punjab restricted CSK to 167/9 thanks to superb spells by Rahul Chahar and Harshal Patel at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium here.

While the leg-spinner recorded figures of 3-23 in his 4 overs at an economy rate of 5.8, Harshal gave away just 24 runs and picked 3 wickets as well in his 4 overs, maintaining an economy rate of 6.

But despite the spectacular bowling performance, Punjab fell short of the target and was unable to get their third win in a row. Despite the result, Harshal maintained that the side still had a chance of making it to the playoffs.

"We just need to play good cricket. In terms of the playoff race, in 13 years of playing IPL, I have never seen a team out of the playoffs race or qualified before 13-14 games are done. We are still in the race and as a team, we know when we play high-quality cricket and everyone knows their job well, we know we can beat any team on any ground," the right-arm fast bowler said in the post-match press conference.

The stand-in skipper Sam Curran also praised the bowling unit after the match and said that it was a tough batting pitch.

"Thought we bowled really well. Rahul Chahar and Harshal were amazing, I was pretty happy at the halfway point but unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The wicket was probably slower than we thought, we expected a little more pace and bounce, it was pretty similar throughout the game," Curran said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

Punjab lost two early wickets, with the in-form Jonny Bairstow and Rilee Rossouw getting out within the first two overs. But Shashank Singh and Prabhsimran Singh kept their hopes alive with a solid 53-run partnership.

"I think with that opening spell, we were still in the game when Prabhsimran Singh and Shashank Singh were batting. Even though we lost two early wickets, we recovered with Prabhsimran and Shashank in the middle during the powerplay. I think we were quite settled at that point. If we had made better choices on which bowlers to target, we could have a different conclusion to the game," the 33-year-old said.

Punjab will next take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the same venue under the lights, and Harshal opened up on the learnings for his side ahead of the crucial next game.

"I think coming into this game, we thought that this would be a high-scoring venue because of the size of the boundary. Usually, this pitch has a lot of pace and bounce. But it was not like that, especially today. The next game we play will be a night game. So, it might be a little different and we might see 30-40 more runs on the surface.

"The lessons we have learned is that if we bowl hard length, close to the stumps, and keep stumps in play at all times, there is enough reward for bowlers and shot-making is difficult from that length," he said.

Meanwhile, Rs 40 lakh was raised during the match in Dharamsala on Sunday to support girl child education. The M3M Foundation, in partnership with Shikhar Dhawan Foundation, has committed support to females for vocational education, and Rs 5 Lakh will be donated for every 25 runs scored and 3 wickets taken by Punjab Kings during their home games.

Through the initiative, the organisation aims to provide vocational education support to 111 girls for up to Rs. 5 lakh, covering a total amount of Rs. 5.55 crore over the next five years.

Punjab Kings will next face Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Thursday (May 9).