Under new leadership, Punjab Kings and KKR will compete against each other.

Both Punjab and KKR ranked sixth and seventh respectively in the last season. In an effort to reach the playoffs this year, they have appointed new captains.

In the opening of IPL 2023, Punjab Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders share some commonalities. Both teams have undergone changes in their captain and coach combinations this year, with Shikhar Dhawan and Trevor Bayliss taking over for Punjab, and Nitish Rana and Chandrakant Pandit for KKR. These changes come after a disappointing previous season for both teams. However, while Punjab’s decision was voluntary, Kolkata’s leadership shift was necessitated by Shreyas Iyer’s injury.

Key personnel are absent from both Punjab and KKR squads. Punjab will be without Jonny Bairstow for the entire season, and Liam Livingstone and Kagiso Rabada will also be missing from their first game. KKR, on the other hand, will have to do without Shakib Al Hasan and Litton Das due to national duty.

Punjab has not made it to the playoffs since 2014, but they are starting this year with promise. They made a record-breaking bid for Sam Curran at the auction. In contrast, KKR had to assemble their squad with the smallest purse after spending a lot of money on pre-auction trades to acquire Shardul Thakur and Lockie Ferguson.

Team news: Livingstone, Shakib unavailable

Punjab’s new opening batsman is likely to be one of Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, or Matthew Short from Australia, in addition to Dhawan, since Mayank Agarwal has been released. In the absence of Kagiso Rabada, Australian fast bowler Nathan Ellis is a possible choice as an overseas fast bowler, and Curran and Arshdeep Singh are expected to form a formidable combination for death-overs. With Livingstone not available, Sikandar Raza from Zimbabwe is a potential candidate to fill the all-rounder’s spot.

For KKR, the opening batsman could be either Rahmanullah Gurbaz from Afghanistan or N Jagadeesan, who recently set the record for the highest List-A score, and both can also serve as wicketkeepers. Lockie Ferguson has recuperated from his hamstring injury and may be preferred over Tim Southee as the overseas seamer, while Venkatesh Iyer’s strong performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is likely to earn him a place in the team. Whether Varun Chakravarthy has regained his fitness and form to secure a spot remains to be seen, and he will face competition from Suyash Sharma, a teenage mystery spinner.

Toss and Impact Player strategy

Punjab Kings

Possible bat-first XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Prabhsimran Singh, 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Shahrukh Khan, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Rishi Dhawan, 9 Harpreet Brar, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh.

Assuming that Punjab bats first, they would have to choose only three overseas players, namely Rajapaksa, Raza, and Curran. Additionally, they could designate Ellis as the Impact Player for Rajapaksa in the second innings. However, if they require an additional batter in the first innings, they could substitute Raj Bawa for a dismissed player, and still have six bowling options at their disposal.

Possible bowl-first XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Prabhsimran Singh, 3 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 4 Sikandar Raza, 5 Shahrukh Khan, 6 Sam Curran, 7 Rishi Dhawan, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Nathan Ellis, 11 Arshdeep Singh.

Assuming Punjab chooses to bowl first, they can opt to replace Ellis or Chahar with Rajapaksa as the Impact Player at No. 3, which would bolster their batting lineup for the chase.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Possible bat-first XI: 1 N Jagadeesan, 2 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 3 Venkatesh Iyer, 4 Nitish Rana (capt), 5 Rinku Singh, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Sunil Narine, 8 Shardul Thakur 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Chakravarthy/ Suyash Sharma.

With a lineup that boasts allrounders, KKR has the luxury of having batsmen who can contribute until the No. 8 spot. As a result, they might consider the option of including an additional bowler in the second innings.

Possible bowl-first XI: 1 N Jagadeesan (wk), 2 Venkatesh Iyer, 3 Nitish Rana (capt), 4 Rinku Singh, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Shardul Thakur, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Lockie Ferguson, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Chakravarthy/Suyash Sharma.

In case KKR chooses to field first and selects only three foreign players, they may opt to have Rahmanullah Gurbaz or David Wiese as the Impact Player for the second innings. Additionally, they could also consider including Wiese in the first innings to provide an extra bowling option.

Statistics of significance

Despite being one of the most consistent batters in the tournament, Shikhar Dhawan has not been able to score a fifty in 11 appearances as captain in the IPL. He holds the record for being the only batter to score 450+ runs in seven consecutive seasons.

Prabhsimran Singh had an impressive performance in the most recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, being the third-highest run-scorer with 320 runs at a strike-rate of 142 and an average of 53.30. Jitesh Sharma has the third-highest T20 strike-rate among Indians, which is 148, placing him behind only Suryakumar Yadav (149) and Prithvi Shaw (152).

After trying out six different combinations last season, KKR will be eager for some solid starts in IPL 2022. Their openers had the lowest average of 15.8, which is much lower than the second-worst team Gujarat Titans, whose first wicket partnership averaged 26.40.

Andre Russell and Sunil Narine hold the records for the highest strike-rates in IPL history (min. 1000 runs), with 178 and 163, respectively. Among them, Russell has the best ball-per-six ratio of 6.5 in the IPL, which is significantly better than Nicholas Pooran, who is in second place with a ratio of 9.3.

Conditions and Pitch

An IPL game will be held in Mohali for the first time since 2019. Historically, the pitch has been favorable for pace bowlers due to the bounce it provides. There are predictions of rain overnight and during Saturday afternoon.

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