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IPL 2023: Rajapaksa, Arshdeep star as Punjab Kings beat KKR by 7 runs in rain-hit match

Bhanuka Rajapaksa timed the ball well to slam a delightful half-century, while Arshdeep Singh picked three wickets as Punjab Kings opened their IPL 2023 campaign with a seven-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs via DLS method at the I.S. Bindra PCA Stadium on Saturday.

On a flat pitch and fast outfield, Punjab were threatening to score upwards of 200, as they reached 100 runs in the first 10 overs. But Kolkata, whose bowlers majorly struggled, picked four wickets in the second half as Punjab could make only 91 runs to end up at a score nine short of 200.

All of Punjab’s batters got starts after being pushed into batting first, but only Rajapaksa could reach the half-century mark, with the help of five fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 156.25.

In reply, Arshdeep starred to leave Kolkata at 29-3 in five overs. Despite late blows from Andre Russell, they reached 146/7 in 16 overs, only for heavy rain to arrive. Kolkata were seven runs behind the DLS par score when rain arrived and eventually lost the game.

Punjab made an early breakthrough in the second over with Arshdeep getting a bit of extra bounce and cramped Mandeep Singh for room, who miscued the pull to deep mid-wicket. He closed the over by cramping Anukul Roy for room and getting him to pull straight to midwicket.

Nathan Ellis struck in the fifth over by having an impressive Rahmanullah Gurbaz miss a back-of-the-length delivery and hit the top of the off-stump. Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer, coming in as an Impact Player for Varun Chakravarthy, got on with the resurrection job by taking a four each off Sikandar Raza.

When Rishi Dhawan, coming in as an Impact Player for Bhanuka Rajapaksa, bowled the ninth over, Rana and Iyer used his shorter deliveries to hit three boundaries. But Raza came back in the next over to have Rana slashing straight to the backward point. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar struck on the first ball of the 11th over as Rinku Singh slog-swept straight to deep mid-wicket.

With half the side down, Russell tried to wage a fightback with a six and four off Chahar and Harpreet Brar respectively. An eventful 14th over from Ellis produced 18 runs, including Iyer hitting a six off a no-ball. Moreover, Russell was dropped by Prabhsimran Singh running back from a short fine leg just after he hit a four through mid-off.

Russell then hit a low full toss from Curran over mid-wicket for six and then ramped a short ball between backward point and short third man for four more. But Curran had the last laugh as Russell holed out to deep mid-wicket. In the next over, Arshdeep had his third wicket with the short ball as Iyer guided straight to backward point. Shardul Thakur and Sunil Narine hit a six each before rain stopped the proceedings.

Brief scores: Punjab Kings 191/5 in 20 overs (Bhanuka Rajapaksa 50, Shikhar Dhawan 40; Tim Southee 2-54, Varun Chakravarthy 1-26) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 146/7 in 16 overs (Andre Russell 35, Venkatesh Iyer 34; Arshdeep 3-19, Rahul Chahar 1-12) by seven runs (via DLS method)

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