KL Rahul's explosive opening stand with Mayank Agarwal went in vain as Punjab Kings suffered a six-wicket defeat against last year's runners-up Delhi Capitals on Sunday. Agarwal, who was the more aggressive of the two Karnataka lads, smashed 69 off 36 deliveries while Rahul scored a 51-ball 61.
The pair managed to get PBKS to 59 runs within the powerplay, helping the Punjab outfit post an intimidating 195/4 on the board. However, Dhawan's 92 eclipsed the century stand as Delhi chased down the total with 10 deliveries to spare.
PBKS skipper Rahul described the loss as 'slightly disappointing and hoped that his side would bounce back stronger. He also congratulated Delhi while praising Dhawan's match-winning knock.
"Victory (on his birthday) would have been sweet, so it's slightly disappointing. But we have a lot of games, so hopefully, we come back stronger and win few games.
"Right now it looks 10-15 runs short, but I think 190-odd looked good. I and Mayank thought 180-190 would have been great on this wicket. Shikhar batted well, so congratulations to them. When we come to Wankhede, bowling second is always a challenge," said Rahul in the post-match presentation.
Rahul also echoed Simon Doull's suggestion and said that he asked the umpires to change the ball a couple of times as it was wet. However, there is no provision for it.
"We prepare for such conditions. It does get difficult against these quality batters. I'm not saying that because I'm on the losing side. Bowlers try to bowl with the wet ball, but it's always difficult to do that. I asked the umpires to change the ball a couple of times (as it was wet), but the rule book doesn't allow that," he added.
Rishabh Pant also showered praise on Dhawan, saying that the left-handed opener is doing a commendable job for the franchise. In their previous match against Rajasthan Royals, Delhi had suffered a three-wicket defeat. They have now climbed to the second spot on the points table, having won two of their first three matches this season.
"Coming from a loss, winning the next match was important. Have already started enjoying captaincy. But we were under pressure at the start, the wicket was not doing much. Bowlers did a good job keeping them to 190. What he's (Dhawan) giving to the team is commendable. Want to keep it light so people can enjoy their cricket," said the winning captain.