Source: Indian Premier League

The Punjab Kings opened their account on the points table of the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 with a thumping win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the DY Patil Stadium on Sunday.

On a field day for batters, the Kings chased down a 206-run target with five wickets and six balls to spare in their tournament opener. Their 208/5 helped the team go up 16-13 in their head-to-head record against the Challengers.

Almost every Punjab batter in the lot came to the party, pitching in with handy contributions after being given a massive total to chase down. In the end, it was an absolute team effort, as each individual shone in their own way, and carved out memorable debuts for themselves in the Kings’ jersey and in the Indian Premier League itself.

Putting the bowlers at task

Opting to bowl first, the Punjab Kings did well to restrict the Royal Challengers Bangalore at 41/0 at the end of the powerplay. Despite not finding an early breakthrough, the Kings barely allowed RCB to breathe easy, apart from Shahrukh Khan dropping Faf du Plessis at 7*, an act that would prove costly later.

The first breakthrough came in the form of opener Anuj Rawat’s wicket claimed by leggie Rahul Chahar. This may have been his only wicket, but his debut in PBKS colours was impressive nonetheless, finishing with numbers 4-0-22-1.

However, things went south for the bowling side from there, as du Plessis placed the foot on the accelerator with Virat Kohli’s support. The duo put up a 118-run partnership for the second wicket, which ended when Khan, ironically, dove to safely catch the South African at 88 (57) off Arshdeep Singh to take the score to 168/2 in just over 17 overs.

Virat Kohli, along with his new partner Dinesh Karthik, kept up the scoring pace. While Kohli finished with a steady 41* (29), Karthik blasted 32* (14) to take the Challengers to 205/2 in their designated 20 overs.

The mammoth chase

With their task cut out, the Kings’ openers, captain Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan, took the field. The duo got to business busily, and raced to a healthy 63/0 in the powerplay overs. They took a particular liking to Mohammed Siraj’s overs, whose 12 balls in the powerplay got the team 29 runs.

It was Agarwal’s wicket that would break the opening partnership at 71/1 when he pushed away a Wanindu Hasaranga delivery to the man at square leg, departing for 32(24). However, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the new man in, took off from where his captain had left, seamlessly stitching a 47-run partnership with Dhawan.

Gabbar’s stellar debut for the Punjab Kings came to an end when he chipped a Harshal Patel delivery to the cover fielder. However, having scored 43 (29), he had done enough damage, having taken the team to 118/2 in the 12th over. Liam Livingstone was the new batter in.

Siraj then came in with a double blow, taking out Rajapaksa and Raj Bawa in consecutive deliveries. The two IPL debutants saw contrasting fortunes - the Sri Lankan departed after a sizzling 43(22), while Raj Bawa missed a full toss on his pads to go for 0(1).

While Livingstone departed after a brief 19(10), it was Khan and Odean Smith who sealed the deal for the Kings. Smith, dropped at 1* off Harshal Patel by Rawat, made full use of the opportunity given, scoring an 8-ball 25*, eventually winning the Player of the Match award for his blistering cameo. His support allowed Khan, who scored 24* (20) himself, to finish off the game with a boundary with a whole over remaining.

The Kings will carry this winning confidence into their next match against Kolkata Knight Riders, on Friday April 1 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.