Rajapaksa, Arshdeep deliver winning start for PBKS

IPL 2023

Rajapaksa, Arshdeep deliver winning start for PBKS

by crickethighlights.one Staff • Published on Sat, Apr 1, 2023

A power-packed, collective performance with the bat set the platform for Punjab Kings’ winning start as they downed Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs (DLS method) at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Saturday (April 1). Bhanuka Rajapaksa (50 off 32) registered his maiden IPL fifty while Shikhar Dhawan struck a 29-ball 40, and along with useful contributions from the rest of the batters, PBKS posted a formidable 191/5. Andre Russell top-scored for KKR but they lost wickets at regular intervals and eventually fell short of the DLS par score as they finished with 146/7 in 16 overs when rain forced the players off the field.

Prabhsimran sets the tone, Rajapaksa takes over

Having been asked to bat, Prabhsimran set the tone for the Kings’ innings with a quick-fire 23 off 12 deliveries, facing all the strike in the first two overs in which he struck a six off Umesh Yadav and two fours and a maximum of Tim Southee. However, his innings came to a tame end as he was caught down the leg side off Southee. But that did not stop Punjab’s brisk progress as Rajapaksa got into the act. Having been on 3 off 4 at the start of the fifth over, the Sri Lankan welcomed Sunil Narine into the attack with two fours and a six, while Shikhar Dhawan too was collecting boundaries at the other end as Punjab raced to 56/1 in the powerplay.

The attacking approach continued as Rajapaksa smashed a four and played a nonchalant flick for a six off Shardul Thakur, swept Narine for a four to raise a half-century stand off 33 deliveries, and then showcased deftness when he guided a Shardul delivery to the thirdman fence for a four. Shikhar too kept the boundaries coming as Punjab raced to 100 in 10 overs, and it appeared more like a competition between the Punjab batters trying to out-do each other as they flattened the KKR attack.

Were KKR able to contain PBKS in the second half?

Only to the extent of not letting PBKS score 200. Although Rajapaksa fell soon after bringing up a brisk fifty, Jitesh Sharma continued the aggression with big hits in a cameo knock of 21 off 11. KKR hit back with the wickets of Jitesh and Shikhar, with Umesh finishing with 1-27 and Varun CV ending up with 1-26. But Narine’s 1-40, Thakur’s 0-43 and Southee’s 2-54 meant the positives were outweighed by expensive outings as PBKS finished with a sizeable total. Each of the seven PBKS batters finished with double-digit scores, with five finishing with 150-plus strike rates, clearly signalling that PBKS resorted to the aggressive ways that gave them good dividends in the previous season, and laid down the marker for the 2023 edition.

Powerplay problems for KKR

The Knight Riders had lost 27 wickets in the powerplay in the previous edition of the IPL, the most for any side. And the first six overs continued to pose problems for them as they lost three wickets inside powerplay in this game as well. While Rahmanullah Gurbaz got off to a quick start, Arshdeep Singh accounted for Mandeep Singh and Anukul Roy in the same over. Gurbaz became the third to depart, getting bowled by Nathan Ellis in the fifth over.

PBKS strike at regular intervals as KKR fall behind

Nitish Rana got off to a promising start but he fell to Sikandar Raza for a 17-ball 24, while Rinku Singh got out to Rahul Chahar as KKR slipped to 80/5. Andre Russell dazzled for a while, striking three fours and two sixes but he fell to Curran on 35 off 19, leaving KKR in further trouble and also behind the par score with a drizzle picking up in Mohali. Arshdeep returned and bagged the wicket of Venkatesh Iyer in the 16th over at the end of which KKR were behind the DLS par score when the players went off as the drizzle turned into a proper shower.

What about the Impact Players

Rajapaksa, after his flamboyant innings, was rested for the second innings with Rishi Dhawan being brought in as the Impact Player by PBKS. But he wasn’t the first to get into the thick of the action as KKR, having lost early wickets, introduced Venkatesh as the Impact Player in place of Varun CV. Venkatesh had gotten off to a steady start, scoring a couple of boundaries off Raza, and was involved in a steady stand with Rana. But Rishi didn’t have the best of starts going for 15 off the only over he bowled. Venkatesh, though, was running out of partners and he eventually couldn’t make the desired impact as he fell for a 28-ball 34.

Where next:

Punjab Kings will travel to Guwahati where they will face Rajasthan Royals on April 5. Kolkata Knight Riders will play their first home game at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 6.

Brief scores: Punjab Kings 191/5 in 20 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 50, Shikhar Dhawan 40; Tim Southee 2-54) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 146/7 in 16 overs (Andre Russell 35; Venkatesh Iyer 34; Arshdeep Singh 3-19) by 7 runs (DLS method)

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