IPL 2021 Punjab Kings Preview: KL Rahul’s intent, huge buys’ price set to headline Punjab’s marketing campaign
Barely 5 months have handed for the reason that fruits of IPL 2020, and but, quite a bit appears to have modified for Punjab Kings. A change of identify is maybe their final throw of cube, however KL Rahul’s males, hitherto often known as Kings XI Punjab, should do much more than beauty corrections ought to they need their fortunes to vary because the 14th version of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will get rolling on 9 April.
A sixth-place end in 2020 was on par with their persistently poor run since 2015, but it surely doesn’t totally narrate the turnaround that they had within the second half of their most up-to-date marketing campaign. After shedding six of their first seven video games, Punjab went on a five-match successful run, earlier than capitulating of their final two video games to bow out of one more playoffs race.
In reality, the final time they made it to the playoffs was in 2014, and the person who starred for them in that marketing campaign within the UAE, Glenn Maxwell, was launched by the franchise within the February public sale. Maxwell, a perennial big-ticket purchase within the IPL, had a forgettable season with Kings XI Punjab in 2020, famously failing to hit a single six within the event. They’ve additionally let go of Sheldon Cottrell, Mujeeb Zadran, Hardus Viljoen, James Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Karun Nair, Jagadeesha Suchith, and Tejinder Singh Dhillon.
The induction of the Aussie trio of Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, and Moises Henriques provides much-needed stability and suppleness to the squad, though spending Rs 22 crore on two international pacers (Rs 14 crore for Richardson and Rs 8 crore for Meredith) would not seem an overtly pragmatic punt. Whereas considered one of Richardson and Meredith could share the brand new ball with Mohammad Shami, Henriques, who’s returning to IPL after a three-year hiatus, ought to present a helpful all-round possibility.
Then, there’s younger Arshdeep Singh, whose peak and misleading tempo stunned a couple of batsmen final season. He additionally has fairly a couple of variations, and if used intelligently within the center overs, he is usually a dependable possibility. Nonetheless, the Punjab Kings bowler who impressed probably the most final season was younger leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi.
The main wicket-taker of the Beneath-19 World Cup 2020, Bishnoi snared 12 wickets from 14 matches at an financial system of seven.37 runs per over in his debut IPL. Not afraid to get hit and all the time gunning for wickets with an aggressive line, Bishnoi, who can be a wonderful fielder, appeared comfy bowling within the powerplay in addition to within the dying overs. His second yr underneath the tutelage of spin legend Anil Kumble can doubtlessly do wonders along with his profession, particularly with the T20 World Cup scheduled later this yr.
His spin twin within the squad, Murugan Ashwin, is one other wily leggie blessed with a imply googly. Ashwin picked 10 wickets from 9 matches final yr at an financial system of seven.46, presenting a case for a extra sustained run on this version. What Punjab lack, although, is a reliable off-spinner.
“He jogs my memory a little bit of Pollard!”
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) April 4, 2021
Within the batting division, quite a bit will depend upon Rahul’s method on the high of the innings. Final yr, thanks partly to lack of depth in his workforce, Rahul batted at a strike price of 129.34, and although the load of his 670 runs can’t be undermined, a sluggish begin will naturally put the line-up underneath undue stress. Kings’ batting coach Wasim Jaffer has assured that Rahul will likely be much more aggressive this season, which could imply extra recreation time for Chris Gayle.
The West Indian legend was launched solely on the midway stage of the event final yr, and he proved central to Punjab’s rearguard. Along with hard-hitting southpaw Nicholas Pooran, Gayle provides much-needed firepower to Punjab’s center order, although Rahul can also think about opening with Gayle as an alternative of Mayank Agarwal given the previous’s common choice to bide his time earlier than unleashing his brute pressure.
Pooran, in the meantime, ought to be a certainty within the enjoying XI. After the ignominy of changing into the one participant in IPL historical past to register two geese in the identical match (regulation recreation in addition to the tremendous over), he went on to attain 353 runs from his subsequent 13 innings. His 25 sixes and the astonishing strike price of 169.71 have been one of the best within the season by any Kings XI Punjab participant, and featured within the top-10 record of event. Add his extraordinary fielding within the combine, and Punjab have a really reliable tailored T20 asset who might serve them properly this season and past.
This leaves World No 1 T20I bastman Dawid Malan in a really precarious place. Not identified to be an out-and-out hitter, Malan’s innings-building method is at odds with Punjab’s workforce stability; keep in mind, they’ve Gayle and Rahul who begin in a similar way. Plus, with Gayle, Pooran, and considered one of Richardson or Meredith showing sure starters, Malan could have his process minimize out.
Among the many Indian abilities, Shahrukh Khan is sure to draw a variety of consideration, not least for his well-known identify. That aside, Khan is understood for his big-hitting prowess and had an excellent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that sealed his Rs 5.25 crore cope with the Kings. Sarfaraz Khan and Deepak Hooda will do properly to come back out from the fringes, whereas younger Ishan Porel, one other U-19 World Cup product, ought to be hoping to get a couple of video games after spending your complete final season on the bench. Punjab Kings have a workforce to succeed in the playoffs, past which, it will be a matter of getting a couple of good days. They open their marketing campaign in opposition to Rajasthan Royals on 12 April in Mumbai.
Full Squad: KL Rahul (c and wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Darshan Nalkande, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar.
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