The second day of the 2023 Indian Premier League saw a double-header Saturday as Punjab Kings hosted on the Kolkata Knight Riders in the afternoon clash in Mohali. The league kicked off to a glittering start on Friday, when defending champions Gujarat Titans defeated Chennai Super Kings by five wickets in Ahmedabad. Punjab Kings are one of the four franchises to have not won the IPL so far, and they made a strong start to the season on Saturday, posting 191/5 in 20 overs against the KKR.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored a quickfire 50 off just 32 balls, while Shikhar Dhawan (40), Sam Curran (26*), Prabhsimran Singh (23), and Jitesh Sharma (21 off 11 balls) all made key contributions to the side’s total. The game also saw Zimbabwe’s star all-rounder Sikandar Raza making his Indian Premier League debut; the player scored 16 in his first outing in the league but did hit a boundary on his first-ever delivery.
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Raza was picked on his base price by the PBKS in the auction last year, and India’s former cricketer Robin Uthappa – who shared the dressing room with the Zimbabwean during their stint with the Dubai Capitals in International League T20 earlier this year – had words of appreciation for Raza as he made his IPL debut. The Zimbabwe star had a cancer scare in 2021, when he was diagnosed with potential bone marrow cancer. He had multiple surgeries and in April the same year, Raza was finally free of the tumor.
Uthappa lauded the Zimbabwe all-rounder on his fighting spirit. “It’s interesting because he actually had a cancer scare a few years ago. I actually talked to him about that. He got that courage to change his action, come out and get going with a really positive attitude. It’s incredible how far he has gotten with that,” Uthappa said during his commentary stint on-air on JioCinema.
Raza has represented Zimbabwe in 17 Tests, 129 ODIs, and 66 T20Is so far, and has made a mark in T20 leagues around the world including the Pakistan Super League.
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