Monday, 29 May, 2023

Rajapaksa helps Punjab bag win over Kolkata

Rajapaksa helps Punjab bag win over Kolkata
Punjab Kings’ Bhanuka Rajapaksa plays a shot during the Indian Premier League T20 match against Kolkata Knight Riders in Mohali on Saturday. – AFP PHOTO

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Sri Lanka's Bhanuka Rajapaksa smashed 50 to set up a seven-run win for Punjab Kings in their rain-hit opening Indian Premier League match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.

The left-handed Rajapaksa's 32-ball knock and a late charge by big-buy Sam Curran, who hit an unbeaten 26, powered Punjab to 191-5 after being invited to bat first in Mohali.

Left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh led the bowling charge with three wickets to restrict two-time champions Kolkata to 146-7 in 16 overs when rain stopped play and Punjab won by the DLS method.

Rajapaksa set the tone for the team's domination with skipper Shikhar Dhawan, who made 40, in an 86-run second-wicket stand before the Sri Lankan big-hitter departed.

Curran, a left-handed all-rounder who became the most expensive IPL player when Punjab paid $2.23 million in the December auction, proved his worth with a 17-ball blitz including two sixes.

Punjab replaced Rajapaksa with fast bowler Rishi Dhawan under the new "impact player" rule among other innovations in the T20 tournament.

The impact player, who can only be an Indian unless the team has fewer than four overseas players in their XI, is chosen from one of five substitutes listed with the team.

Earlier on Friday, opener Shubman Gill smashed 63 as holders Gujarat Titans beat Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in the Indian Premier League opener in front of more than 100,000 fans in Ahmedabad. Chasing 179 for victory, Gujarat rode on Gill's 36-ball innings to achieve their target with four balls to spare at the world's biggest cricket stadium and their home ground.