Punjab Kings will take the stage alongside Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on Saturday, April 1 at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali. Under the leadership of Shikhar Dhawan, Punjab would look to put up a complete performance in their tournament opener and start their campaign with a win.
The Punjab franchise played a fearless brand last season with batters having a license to take down the bowling attack from ball one. It would be interesting to see if they stick with the same approach in IPL 2023. As Dhawan & Co. bid to trump Kolkata, let us look at the playing XI they can come up with and the impact player they might use.
Here’s Punjab Kings’ predicted XI for the match against Kolkata Knight Riders
Openers: Shikhar Dhawan(c), Prabhsimran Singh
Shikhar Dhawan has been a run-bank in the Indian Premier League. He has featured in 206 IPL games and amassed 6244 runs at a strike rate of 126.35. The Indian batter displayed his class in the last season as well and piled on 460 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 122.67.
Dhawan has been handed the leadership duties of Punjab Kings for the 2023 season of the cash-rich league and the ace batter would look to lead from the front, providing his side with solid starts on a consistent basis. The veteran batter could even stake his claim for the Orange Cap of the season.
The team management could look at Prabhsimran Singh to be Dhawan’s opening partner. Prabhsimran has been sensational in the domestic circuit and plundered 1156 runs in 41 T20 games at a strike rate of 137.94. He would be eager to shine in the marquee event and make the opening slot his own.
Middle Order: Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma (wk)
Bhanuka Rajapaksa has been a prominent figure in the T20 circuit. He has taken the attack of the opposition right from the get-go and changed the game in the favour of his side. Rajapaksa showed his batting prowess in the previous IPL edition and smashed 206 runs in nine games at a stunning strike rate of 159.69. He is likely to play in the number three position in the coming encounter.
Besides Rajapaksa, Punjab Kings will have the likes of Shahrukh Khan and Jitesh Sharma in the middle order. Shahrukh is a ferocious striker of the cricket ball and has left the cricket fraternity in awe of his performances in the domestic arena. However, he had a poor showing last season and could only score 117 runs in eight games. The 27-year-old would look to bring his A-game into play in the upcoming clash.
Coming to Jitesh, the wicketkeeper-batter was phenomenal in the previous edition of the marquee tournament. He featured in 12 matches and hammered 234 runs at a magnificent strike rate of 163.64. The 29-year-old would be itching to show his batting prowess in the encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders.
All-rounders: Sikandar Raza, Sam Curran
Sikandar Raza has been a bankable name in the T20 circuit. He has aggregated 3346 runs in 172 matches in the shortest format and bagged 87 wickets at an economy of 7.40. With Liam Livingstone unavailable for the clash against the Kolkata franchise, the Punjab management would look at the Zimbabwe all-rounder to fill Livingstone’s void in the team.
Apart from Raza, Punjab Kings have the services of Sam Curran. The England all-rounder has been a game-changer with bat and ball. He has been a strike force with the ball and bagged 158 wickets in 157 T20 games. On the batting front, he has scored 1827 runs at a strike rate of 132.19.
Punjab acquired Curran at the IPL 2023 auction for a staggering sum of INR 18.5 crore and would hope that their big investment bears fruit. The 24-year-old has all the class in the world to thrive in the T20 extravaganza and would look to put his best foot forward in the clash on Saturday.
Bowlers: Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis, Rahul Chahar, Vidhwath Kaverappa
Arshdeep Singh has been a consistent performer in the cash-rich league and has made ball talk at the start of the innings and provided his side with early breakthroughs, Also, the 24-year-old has been impeccable at the death, nailing yorkers at will. The Indian pacer would look to bring his A-game into play in the match against Nitish Rana & Co.
Given Kagiso Rabada is on national duty, Punjab are likely to slot in Nathan Ellis in his place. Ellis has been a consistent performer in the T20 circuit and bagged 103 wickets in 85 matches at an economy of 7.96. He would look to put a show in the upcoming clash.
Barring Ellis and Arshdeep, Punjab could include Vidhwath Kaverappa in the fast-bowling department. Kaverappa has been sensational in the domestic arena and bagged 18 wickets in eight games at an economy of 6.36. He would be counted upon to set the tone with the new ball.
Last but not the least, Dhawan & Co, will have Rahul Chahar at their disposal. Chahar is known to bamboozle batters with his variations and wreak havoc with the ball. He fared well in the previous edition, taking 14 wickets in 13 games at an economy of 7.71. The 23-year-old would look to carry on the good work for Punjab in IPL 2023.
Impact player scenarios:
If Punjab Kings bat first (Captain chooses the XI with an extra batter at toss):
Probable Impact Player: Baltej Singh
Baltej Singh set the recently culminated edition of the Ranji Trophy ablaze with his stunning bowling displays. He featured in eight games and bagged 37 wickets at a superb average of 14.78. Thus, if any Punjab Kings bowler has an off-day in the coming game, the think tank could include the in-form Baltej at an expense of a batter to add more venom to the bowling attack.
If Punjab Kings bowl first (Captain chooses the XI with an extra bowler at toss):
Probable Impact Player: Atharva Taide
Atharva Taide has been a proven performer in the Indian domestic circuit. He has featured in 30 T20 games and scored 741 runs at a strike rate of 129.77. Given Punjab is studded with more aggressive batters in their line-up, they could add Taide in case Punjab loses early wickets during their chase. The 22-year-old can play the anchor role beautifully and also swiftly switch gears to put the opposition bowlers under the pump.