Arshdeep and Rajapaksa see Kings past KKR
Punjab Kings held on to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by seven runs via the DLS method in the Indian Premier League after Andre Russell almost led an improbable comeback.
After being put in to bat by KKR in the second match of the new campaign, hosts Punjab racked up 191-5, as an 86-run second-wicket partnership between Bhanuka Rajapaksa (50) and captain Shikhar Dhawan (40) set them up.
Rajapaksa reached his half century from just 30 balls, with Jitesh Sharma (21 off 11) and Sam Curran (26 off 17) helping to keep up the momentum after the Sri Lanka batter's dismissal.
Wickets fell regularly for KKR in their reply, with Arshdeep Singh (3-19) removing Mandeep Singh and Anukul Roy in his first over, before later returning to claim the key scalp of Venkatesh Iyer (34).
The chase looked doomed at 80-5, but a typically big-hitting display from Russell (35 from 19) got them back in with a chance before Curran removed the danger man with a short ball that was skied to Sikandar Raza.
After Sunil Narine smashed a six, KKR were still in with an outside chance at 146-7 needing 46 runs from the last 24 balls, but rain was in the air at that point and the umpires called the players off with Punjab narrowly ahead via DLS and no resumption of play proved possible.
Kings hope to end play-off drought
With Curran, the England all-rounder who this season became the most expensive player in the IPL's 16-year history, in their ranks and Arshdeep looking impressive, Punjab look primed for a strong campaign.
Kagiso Rabada and Liam Livingstone are among the stars still to come into the team, with the Kings desperate to end an eight-year run without reaching the play-offs.
So far, so good after they beat KKR for only the third time from their last nine IPL attempts despite the best efforts of Russell.
Narine has a superb IPL track record, having taken 152 wickets for KKR. He recorded a dot ball rate of 42.3 per cent last season, the best of any spinner in the IPL (min. 25 overs).
But the Kings played him well. Rajapaksa made his team's intentions clear by hitting 14 runs – including a six – from Narine's opening over and the spinner went on to leak 36 runs without claiming a wicket from his first three.
Narine did respond with the late wicket of Raza (16) but the batting team would have gladly settled for his final figures of 1-40 had they been offered.