IPL 2021 PBKS Team Preview and Predictions: With tweaked name, Punjab Kings hopeful of change in fortune as well
Luck was clearly not on Punjab's side last year as they lost several close matches despite playing good cricket and even a late dash could not see them qualify for the playoffs.
Maxwell and Cottrell out, Richardson and Malan in
Kings XI Punjab, now known as Punjab Kings, played some good cricket in the second half of IPL 2020 but missed out of a playoff berth by 2 points. The team played well in the first few matches as well but kept losing matches that went right down to the wire and kept sliding down the points table.
The result was that they let go of Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, James Neesham and Hardus Viljoen at the end of the season and bought Moises Henriques, Fabian Allen, Dawid Malan, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson in the auctions.
Rahul, Aggarwal, Gayle - Punjab's top 3
The team is looking a lot more balanced this time around with KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle as their top 3. Rahul played quite cautiously in the last edition, perhaps due to the responsibility of captaincy and a shaky middle order.
This time around, Punjab's batting coach Wasim Jaffer has already made it clear that the batsman would go about his business at a far quicker rate. Gayle will be followed by another West Indian big-hitter in Nicholas Pooran.
They also have the option of Dawid Malan in case either Gayle or Pooran misfires. Shahrukh Khan, who has made a name for himself as a big-hitting finisher in the Indian domestic circuit, is expected to be used as Punjab Kings' finisher.
Jhye Richardson and Shami - Punjab's new ball pair
The Kings broke the bank for Australian pacer Jhye Richardson and he will be their leading pacer alongside Mohammad Shami. Shami has recovered from the blow on his arm which he sustained on the India tour of Australia.
Kings have the option of playing both spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin or playing one of them and bringing in either Chris Jordan or Riley Meredith, both of whom are known for their death bowling skills. Medium pacer Arshdeep Singh did well for Punjab last year and is expected to retain his spot.
Moises Henriques and Fabien Allen in the reserves
Punjab also have a few impressive squad players like Moises Henriques and Fabien Allen, both of whom have the capability of turning the match on its head. Among Indian all-round options, they have Harpreet Brar and Deepak Hooda.
Prabhsimran Singh, the explosive wicketkeeper batsman, is a good option. Pacer Ishan Porel who made a name for himself in the under 19 circuit and is another impressive option.
Top Batsman - Runs Scored - Nicholas Pooran
Top Bowler - Wickets Taken - Chris Jordan
Most Sixes - Chris Gayle
Predicted starting XI
Punjab Kings – KL Rahul (C&WK), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Mandeep Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi/Murugan Ashwin, Chris Jordan/Riley Meredith, Mohammed Shami & Arshdeep Singh.
Punjab Kings (PBKS) - KL Rahul (c & wk), Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh (wk), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, 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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