"It seems their hands are tied" - Aakash Chopra on Punjab Kings' issues heading into IPL 2023 clash against KKR
Aakash Chopra has pointed out that the Punjab Kings' (PBKS) are slightly compromised ahead of their IPL 2023 clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
The two sides will lock horns in Mohali in the afternoon game on Saturday, April 1. PBKS, who had only seven overseas players as part of their contingent after the auction, were dealt a further blow when Jonny Bairstow was ruled out of the tournament, with Matthew Short being named his replacement.
While previewing the game in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Chopra highlighted that the Punjab Kings have been hit hard by the unavailability of some of their most prominent overseas players, elaborating:
"Punjab has a few issues to address. Earlier it seemed only Jonny Bairstow might not be there but even Liam Livingstone is not there for this match. Kagiso Rabada has also still not come. So it seems their hands are tied."
The former Indian opener feels the Punjab Kings should field Short and Bhanuka Rajapaksa as the overseas batters in their playing XI, with Sikandar Raza being an additional option, saying:
"They have kept Matthew Short. I feel you can play him as well because you don't have too many options. After that, you have Bhanuka Rajapaksa and then you look towards Jitesh Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh. You also look towards Sikandar Raza because you don't have too many overseas batter options."
Chopra added that Shahrukh Khan needs to deliver for the Punjab Kings, considering the hefty amount for which he was bought. He also named Sam Curran and Nathan Ellis as the overseas bowlers the Shikhar Dhawan-led franchise is likely to field.
"It seems like a contest between almost two equal teams" - Aakash Chopra on KKR's issues heading into the clash against the Punjab Kings
Aakash Chopra pointed out that the Kolkata Knight Riders, much like the Punjab Kings, have their own set of problems, explaining:
"Kolkata will be there in front of them. It seems like a contest between almost two equal teams because Kolkata have a different set of problems. Litton Das and Shakib Al Hasan are not yet available. We don't know about Lockie Ferguson's fitness and Shreyas Iyer is unavailable."
While opining that Rahmanullah Gurbaz should open alongside Venkatesh Iyer, the former KKR player wants the Nitish Rana-led side to promote Andre Russell in the batting order, stating:
"I feel you should get Rahmanullah Gurbaz to open with Venkatesh Iyer because you will get both a keeper and an opener. Then Nitish Rana and Rinku Singh will come to bat. Send Andre Russell up the order and expect performances from Sunil Narine."
While expecting Tim Southee to lead KKR's seam attack, Chopra added that Anukul Roy, Vaibhav Arora and Kulwant Khejroliya could be Impact Player options for the franchise in the bowling department. He concluded by opining that the scale is tilted slightly towards KKR in Saturday's afternoon game.
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