With a new look and feel, Punjab Kings XI of the previous years underwent a minor rebranding and is now called Punjab Kings. In recent years the Punjab franchise has been building their squad with strong players and had high hopes for IPL 2020 with a strong squad hoping to make the playoffs. But if we could summarize their campaign in one word, it would be ‘roller coaster’.
Consistency was something they often lacked as a team. Frequently playing on the extremes of the good and bad and struggling to close out matches from winning positions, the management will be hoping to make improvements in the coming season. Sticking with the Anil Kumble-KL Rahul combination for another year, once again the team looks like a contender for playoffs on paper.
Entering the 2021 IPL auction, Punjab Kings held the largest purse among the franchises and made some telling purchases. With the inclusion of Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, and Riley Meredith, they have got in from overseas players who have performed in respective International or domestic matches and adding on some smart local talent as Shahrukh Khan and Jalaj Saxena, the team brims of great potential.
Today we take a look at the top 5 players expected to lead the team with their performances.
KL Rahul (India)
The right-handed batsman set the Indian Premier League alight with his performances in the last season. Right from the start, he set the tone, leading with his bat with little or no support from his teammates. Despite the team struggling in the initial stages of the tournament, KL Rahul never failed in his talents, batting with airtight technique and unimpeachable focus.
He led the most runs scored stats in the last edition of IPL, winning the orange cap. He scored 670 runs from 14 matches which included 1 century and 5 half-centuries. Although since then, he has struggled to find his foot in the International scene, struggling and shot of confidence in the recently concluded T20 series against England. But as a shimmer of hope for the management, he looks to be turning around his fortunes with a match-winning half-century in the 1st ODI of India versus England.
Dawid Malan (England)
The Englishman’s story is one of grit and determination, making his first-class debut at the age of 18 and not making the international scene any sooner than 2017. The 33-year-old has grabbed the opportunity that has come by and today is the World’s No 1 batsman in the shortest format of the game. Although an aggressive player of the ball, more than muscling the ball, he is an exceptional timer of the ball with the ability to find gaps all over the field.
The late bloomer is yet to play the IPL and will be making his debut this year. But his records at the international level speak for themselves. He is the quickest batsman to score 1000 runs in T20I cricket in 24 innings. Scoring with a 50.15 average with a strike rate of 144.31 including 1 century and 10 half-centuries, the batsman is exceptional in this format of the game. Although he struggled to make big contributions in the Indian pitches, he scored a half-century in the last T20 of the India England series showing his willingness to adapt.
Nicholas Pooran (West Indies)
The West Indian batsman is a ruthless southpaw who is famous for his merciless hitting, with the ability to clear any boundary with ease. He is well experienced with franchise-based shorter leagues, as he is a regular feature for teams around the world. Being a good player of spin also, he will once again look to flourish and better his records in the IPL.
In the previous edition of IPL, He scored 353 runs from 14 matches at a remarkable strike rate of 169.71. And one of the top four batsmen who had hit the most sixes in the tournament with 25 sixes. The wicketkeeper-batsman just finished a successful Abu Dhabi T10 campaign scoring 241 runs with 2 catches and a stumping in 9 matches. Being a more than capable keeper along with KL Rahul, he will be looking to make a big impression in this edition of IPL.
Jhye Richardson (Australia)
An Aussie paceman who can consistently bowl at speeds of 140kph and has the ability to swing the ball both ways. The tear-away speedster has shot to fame quickly, with a wide variety of tricks and variations in his bowling. Being equally effective in the start of the innings and death over, he will be a handy weapon for the skipper to use.
Yet to play in the IPL, the Aussie bowler had a stand-out year in the last edition of BBL, ending the tournament on a high by becoming the league’s leading wicket-taker with 29 wickets. With his exceptional performance, he helped his team be high up the table placed second. Consistently being among the wickets, earned him a call up to the international scene. Where he hasn't quite exactly exploded. But will be hoping to translate his BBL exploits in the grandest T20 league of the world.
Mohammed Shami (India)
A regular feature in the international scene for the India setup, Mohammed Shami has been a stellar performer in the hardest T20 league of the world. Being a default retain choice for the Punjab franchise, He will once again be asked to lead the bowling attack for the Punjab side. With the skill bowl at accurate lines at both start and death over. He stands to be a serious threat for the opposition batsman.
In the last edition of the IPL, he picked up 20 wickets from 14 matches and was among the top 8 bowlers of the competition. Though clearly having the wicket-taking ability, the only concern will be his economic rate which stands at 8.57 for last season and 8.89 for his IPL career. As for International cricket, during the first test of the India Australia Test series, the Indian paceman sustained an injury to his wrist and has been in rehabilitation ever since. The management will be hoping he doesn't miss a beat as he makes his return in the IPL.
With another year of IPL, a much-strengthened team, and a new set of hopes, the management would be hoping they have overcome their demons of the past. Having made the finals only once in IPL 2014, Punjab Kings will be looking to make huge strides in this year's competition. Let us know your thoughts about Punjab king’s playoff chances and who will be their top performers.