Punjab Kings got its IPL 2023 campaign off to a winning start after it eked out Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs on the DLS method during a rain-hit game at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
KKR’s stand-in captain Nitish Rana won the toss on his captaincy debut and opted to field following heavy showers over the past two days at the venue. The home side racked up a hefty 191 for five, courtesy of a top-order flourish. However, Punjab could have put on more if not for a crisis in the death overs. KKR’s patchy bowling and an awry start to the chase were made up by some raw hitting before it narrowly fell short of the par score in the chase.
Here is a recap of the hits and misses for both sides during an exciting contest:
Punjab Batting 191/5 (20)
Prabhsimran’s quickfire start: Local lad Prabhsimran got PBKS off to a superb start as he cracked two fours and as many sixes within the two overs against seamer Umesh Yadav and Tim Southee to set the tone. The flashy right-hander, however, fell to Southee on 23 but stood true to Punjab’s new batting template.
Rajapaksa’s half-century, Dhawan’s firm anchor: While skipper Shikhar Dhawan bid his time by firming up one end, Bhanuka Rajapaksa teed off with a flurry of boundaries. Rajapaksa looked in menacing form when he crossed his 50 off just 30 balls. However, he fell two balls later, offering KKR to claw back into the game after breaking an 86-run stand.
Struggle to finish: Dhawan’s attempt to play deep into the innings was undone by spinner Varun Chakravarthy who castled the southpaw on 40. Middle-order bats Jitesh Sharma, Sikandar Raza and Sam Curran chipped in with cameos. However, they collectively failed to sustain the momentum to the end. PBKS has based its game around power-hitting and would look to make amends in terms of consistent slogging in the upcoming games.
Misses: KKR nearly fielded its possible full-strength bowling unit and the depleted resources several chinks. While Umesh Yadav bowled out rather decently (1/27 in four), Tim Southee was taken to the cleaners despite his two wickets (2/56). Shardul Thakur also failed to impress on his franchise debut as he went wicketless for 43 runs in his quota of overs. KKR’s prime spinner, Sunil Narine, also had a pale outing as he conceded 40 runs for a solitary wicket. KKR will have a lot of work to do in terms of its bowling combinations, with Andre Russell surprisingly, not rolling his arm over.
Kolkata Batting 146/7 (16)
Hits and Misses
PBKS seamer Arshdeep Singh’s cracking start ensured KKR opener Mandeep Singh holed out for two in the second over. An experiment with all-rounder Anukul Roy’s promotion to no. 3 failed as Arshdeep snapped him up in the same over.
Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz matched his Punjab counterpart Prabhsimran as he sped off the blocks with a slew of boundaries. However, Gurbaz was castled by a skiddy delivery from Nathan Ellis and KKR soon slipped into trouble. KKR’s wafer-thin top-order leaves the side among the weakest in the tournament. Captain Rana also failed to seize his chance to impress, falling for a tepid 24 off 17 balls.
Iyer, Russell aid KKR response: Venkatesh Iyer who replaced Chakravarthy as the Impact Player, helped KKR bounce back in the chase as he found the occasional boundary while Russell smothered the ball at the other end. As the skies began to slowly open up, Russell and Iyer found three sixes before desperation favoured PBKS. Arshdeep’s quick bumper was enough to dismiss Iyer while Russell’s pull failed to clear Sikandar Raza at deep mid-wicket.
Misses: The lack of overall balance between both departments has troubled the Knight Riders. Save Iyer and Russell’s 50-run stand, there is almost no takeaway for the group after its first league game. KKR will need its top-order to brace up and get ready to grind it out through the PowerPlay in the upcoming games.
Hit: Arshdeep Singh’s adept PowerPlay bowling is a massive boost for Punjab. The left-armer took no time to hit the peak as he picked up two wickets in his first over. Arshdeep’s immense control over variations in line was in display. His form augurs well for Punjab, especially in the absence of Kagiso Rabada.
Miss: Sam Curran, the costliest buy of the tournament, had a sedate outing with the ball as KKR batters reeled in 38 runs from his three overs. While he managed to grab the big fish Russell, Curran will need to be sharper with the new ball in the upcoming matches.
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