Punjab Kings (PBKS) started their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 campaign on a winning note as they defeated Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 7 runs (DLS method) at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Saturday, April 1.

The Kings rode on Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s maiden IPL fifty along with contributions from every batter who came out to bat. Captain Shikhar Dhawan (40), Prabhsimran Singh (23), Jitesh Sharma (21), Sikandar Raza (16), Sam Curran (26 not out), and Shahrukh Khan (11 not out) all got to double figures to help the Kings post 191/5 in 20 overs. Later, PBKS pacer Arshdeep Singh claimed three wickets to help restrict KKR to 146/7 in 16 overs.

Earlier, KKR captain Nitish Rana won the toss and opted to field first. They handed franchise debuts to wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Shardul Thakur. The franchise also named Suyash Sharma, Vaibhav Arora, Narayan Jagadeesan, Venkatesh Iyer and David Wiese as substitutes. 

On the other hand, Sikandar Raza made his IPL debut for PBKS as they named Rishi Dhawan, Atharva Taide, Matthew Short, Harpreet Singh Bhatia and Mohit Rathee as their substitutes. 

Prabhsimran and captain Dhawan opened the innings for the Kings, with Prabhsimran hammering a quick-fire 23 runs off just 12 balls before he was dismissed by KKR pacer Tim Southee.

Sri Lankan batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa joined Shikhar in the middle, and the duo continued the momentum forwards. In the seventh over, Rajapaksa played some scintillating shots and slammed Shardul Thakur for 13 runs. 

Rajapaksa and Dhawan continued their attacking approach as PBKS brought up their hundred in just 10 overs.

The Sri Lankan international notched up his first IPL fifty off just 30 balls, but was dismissed soon after. Rajapaksa’s impressive innings was laced with five fours and two sixes.

With the score reading 109/2 in 11 overs, wicketkeeper-batter Jitesh Sharma walked in to bat at number four. Jitesh smashed 21 runs off just 10 balls before he was deceived by a slower delivery by Southee. 

Following Jitesh’s dismissal, debutant Sikandar Raza joined Dhawan in the middle. The Kings soon suffered another huge blow as Dhawan perished to leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy for a well-made 29-ball 40.

Curran and Raza then forged a 25-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the Zimbabwean all-rounder departed to Sunil Narine for 16.

Towards the end, Curran’s unbeaten 26 off 17 balls and Shahrukh’s 7-ball 11 powered the Kings to 191/5 in 20 overs.

After the innings break, the Kings introduced Rishi Dhawan as their impact player as he replaced Rajapaksa.

Defending 191, Kings’ star pacer Arshdeep Singh bagged two early wickets as he dismissed Mandeep Singh (2) and Anukul Roy (4) in his very first over.

Meanwhile, KKR brought in Venkatesh Iyer as their impact player in place of Varun Chakravarthy following Anukul’s dismissal.

In the fifth over, the Kings soon picked up their third wicket as pacer Nathan Ellis cleaned up KKR opener Gurbaz for 22.

Reeling at 29/3, KKR skipper Nitish Rana joined Iyer in the middle. The pair stitched a 46-run partnership before Raza scalped his maiden IPL wicket to remove Rana for 24.

Kings’ leg-spinner Rahul Chahar soon joined the party as he dismissed Rinku Singh (4) in his very first ball.

With KKR struggling at 80/5, Andre Russell walked into bat. In desperate need of a partnership, Russell and Iyer stitched a 50-run stand to keep the visitors in the game.

However, Curran later broke the sixth-wicket partnership as he removed dangerous Russell for a 19-ball 35.

The Kings continued to pick up wickets at regular intervals as spinner Rahul Chahar soon bagged his second wicket as he dismissed Iyer for 34.

At the end of the 16th over, rain played spoilsport as KKR still required 46 runs in the last four overs. The visitors were behind on DLS par by 7 runs.

Incessant rain later forced the match to be called off as the Kings registered their first victory in the 2023 edition of the IPL.

With two points on the board, the Shikhar Dhawan-led PBKS will aim to continue their winning momentum when they lock horns with Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their second IPL 2023 encounter at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati, Assam on Wednesday, April 5.