The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 is set to witness a thrilling encounter between Punjab Kings (PBKS) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium in Mohali on Saturday. Both teams have faced their share of injuries to key players but will look to put up a strong performance in their opening match.

PBKS and KKR, who finished sixth and seventh respectively in last year’s 10-team competition, will be led by new captains Shikhar Dhawan and Nitish Rana this season. With key players missing from both sides, let’s take a look at the potential starting XI for each team and the impact players to watch out for.

Sikandar Raza’s IPL Debut

With Liam Livingstone’s clearance from the ECB still pending due to a knee injury, Zimbabwean all-rounder Sikandar Raza could make his IPL debut for PBKS. The 36-year-old has been a consistent performer in international cricket and was a part of Lahore Qalandars’ back-to-back title-winning seasons. Raza’s all-round skills could provide much-needed stability to PBKS’ middle-order.

Sam Curran’s Homecoming

Sam Curran returns to PBKS after making his IPL debut with the franchise in 2019. After a promising start, Curran has now established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the cricketing world. PBKS acquired Curran for a record-breaking INR 18.50 crore at the IPL 2023 mini-auction, making him the most expensive player in IPL history.

N Jagadeesan to Open for KKR

N Jagadeesan never got an extended run at Chennai Super Kings, playing only seven matches for the franchise. However, the 27-year-old’s impressive domestic season, which included five consecutive List A centuries during the Vijay Hazare Trophy, caught KKR’s attention. With an unsettled top-order, KKR might give the Tamil Nadu opener an extended opportunity.

PBKS Predicted Playing XI

PBKS XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prabhsimran Singh, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Sikandar Raza, Jitesh Sharma, Sharukh Khan, Sam Curran, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Nathan Ellis, Arshdeep Singh

Impact Player: Sam Curran

KKR XI: N Jagadeesan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy

Impact Player: Lockie Ferguson

With several key players missing and new faces looking to make their mark, the PBKS vs KKR clash promises to be an exciting contest. Keep an eye on impact players like Sam Curran and Lockie Ferguson, as they could play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the match.

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