Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) lost their TATA Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 season opener to Punjab Kings (PBKS) by 7 runs via DLS method in a rain-affected contest at Mohali’s IS Bindra Stadium earlier today (Saturday, April 1).

Led by Nitish Rana, KKR won the toss and elected to bowl first. The Knights named Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Tim Southee as the four overseas players in their playing XI.

The hosts got off to a flying start as openers Prabhsimran Singh smashed 23 runs off the first 12 balls of the PBKS innings before being caught by Rahmanullah Gurbaz off Tim Southee’s bowling.

Following his dismissal, PBKS captain Shikhar Dhawan and Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa forged a 55-ball 86-run partnership for the second wicket. KKR, though, retaliated by dismissing Rajapaksa (50 off 32 balls), Jitesh Sharma (21 off 11 balls) and Dhawan (40 off 29 balls) in the space of three-and-a-half overs.

However, IPL debutant Sikandar Raza (16 off 13 balls), Sam Curran (26* off 17 balls) and Shahrukh Khan (11* off 7 balls) provided a late surge to propel the PBKS total to 191/5 at the end of their 20 overs.

Tim Southee (2/54) picked up a couple of wickets (Prabhsimran and Jitesh), while Varun  Chakravarthy and Umesh Yadav were the pick of the KKR bowlers as they returned with figures of 1/26 and 1/27, respectively.

KKR would’ve liked to make a better start to their chase. They lost their first three wickets – Mandeep Singh (2 off 4 balls), Anukul Roy (4 off 5 balls) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (22 off 16 balls) - inside the PowerPlay.

Making his TATA IPL debut, Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz gave a good account of his batting pyrotechnics during his brief stay at the crease. He hit Curran for a huge six over long-on off the second ball he faced. The young wicketkeeper-batter hit 3 fours as well before being clean bowled by Nathan Ellisin the fifth over.

All-rounder Venkatesh Iyer, who became KKR’s first Impact Player in the TATA IPL, came out to bat in the fifth over, replacing Chakravarthy. Although he and Rana tried their best to arrest an early downslide, the KKR captain perished in the tenth over as he mistimed a short ball off Raza, which went straight to Rahul Chahar.

Rinku Singh was the next man to depart as his attempted slog sweep off Chahar was caught by Raza at deep midwicket in the very next over. 

Thereafter, Russell and Iyer stitched together a 50-run partnership that brought them closer to the DLS target. The Jamaican all-rounder (35 off 19)  hit a six and a four in the 15th over before falling prey to Curran with a mistimed pull off the over’s penultimate delivery.

Four deliveries later, Iyer (34 off 28) got dismissed while trying to upper cut Arshdeep’s short ball around the off-stump. 

Shardul Thakur and Sunil Narinestruck 15 runs off five balls between them, but by then, the DLS target had gone beyond reach. The match was interrupted after a heavy shower descended on the field. PBKS’ Arshdeep Singh (3/19) was adjudged the Player of the Match.

Checkout our captains take on the game 

The Knights will return to action when they host Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the season’s first home game at the Eden Gardens on Thursday (April 6) at 7.30 PM.