Punjab Kings skipper Shikhar Dhawan has equaled Virat Kohli’s massive feat with a crucial partnership with Bhanuka Rajapaksa during the match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday. Dhawan is one of the most consistent performers with the bat in the Indian Premier League and he started the 2023 edition with a gritty 40-run knock at Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali. It was the first match of the season for Punjab Kings and Dhawan led them from the front and played a crucial role in his team posting 191/5 on the scoreboard.
Dhawan shared an 86-run stand for the second with Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksa to set up the foundation of a big total. With the stand, Dhawan matched Kohli’s tally of getting involved in most 50-run or plus partnerships in IPL. It was Dhawan’s 94th fifty-plus stand in the cash-rich league to equal Kohli’s number. While Suresh Raina is at the third spot in the list with 82 50-run or plus partnerships.
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Meanwhile, Dhawan scored 40 runs off 29 balls which was laced with four boundaries. Punjab dominated the first half of the innings with aggressive batting and looked primed to cross 200, but Kolkata Knight Riders managed to pull things back in control with regular wickets after a sturdy association between Rajapaksa and Dhawan.
The left-handed Sri Lankan Rajapaksa made the most of wrong lines bowled to him by KKR bowlers, racing to the first half-century for PBKS in the 16th edition of IPL.
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Riding on the momentum provided by Prabhsimran Singh (23) at the top, Rajapaksa ensured Punjab maintained the domination while Dhawan played the second fiddle throughout his stay.
For KKR, Chakravarthy (4-0-26-1) and Yadav (4-0-27-1) were the pick among the bowlers but the overseas pair of Southee (4-0–54-2) and Narine (4-0-40-1) and India’s Shardul Thakur (4-0-43-0) were expensive.
Meanwhile, Dhawan talked about leading the side and the importance of Impact Player at the toss.
“Getting the impact player in the second innings can create more of an impact. Happy to bat as well. We have got a balanced side, so hopefully we will do good. The team preparation has been good and we will look to dominate the game, hoping for a great season ahead. We are eager to win the trophy and I am looking to lead from the front. My overseas players are - Bhanuka, Nathan Ellis, and Sam Curran, don’t remember the fourth name," Dhawan said.
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