Formerly known as Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), the newly christened Punjab Kings went into the auction for the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the highest purse and made a plethora of good buys to strengthen their team ahead of the tournament in April. After all the signings, their side now looks stronger as compared to last year and they would fancy their chances of going all the way this year.
Punjab had a topsy-turvy season last year as they got off to a horrendous start before turning around the season in style to get back in contention for the playoff spots. However, a loss in the final league game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) meant they had to be content with a sixth-placed finish. They wouldn’t want a similar finish this season however.
Ahead of the IPL, we take a look at Punjab’s predicted XI for the coming season.
Top Order: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Chris Gayle
The opening slots for the Punjab Kings is as good as settled ahead of next season as KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were in supreme touch last season. The duo’s consistency was astounding as they gave their side excellent starts throughout the season. The No. 3 spot would go to Chris Gayle whose arrival after injury last year turned the side’s fortunes around. There is a case for playing Dawid Malan instead of the West Indian and it would be interesting to see if the same happens.
Middle Order: Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan
Nicholas Pooran is among the most feared batsmen in T20 cricket at the moment and it is a no-brainer that he would bat at No. 4 for Punjab. After him uncapped Indians Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan could follow. There is a case for including Mandeep Singh instead of Hooda as well and that could happen. New signing Shahrukh Khan would don the role of a finisher as he has been doing for Tamil Nadu. He would also be their sixth bowling option.
Pacers: Chris Jordan, Jhye Richardson and Mohammed Shami
Punjab Kings are well-equipped in their pace bowling department which will be led by the ever-dependable Mohammed Shami. Australia’s Jhye Richardson who was picked up for big money would be expected to open the bowling along with him. The third pacer who would also be a handy lower-order batsman is Chris Jordan. There is also the option of Arshdeep Singh and Riley Meredith as backups.
Spinners: Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin
The spin attack will comprise of uncapped Indian leggies Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin who both impressed last season and shouldered the responsibility admirably well. The two will be expected to pick up wickets during the middle-overs. The backups in this regard are new signings Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh and Fabian Allen. The latter can also be a handy batter and would be an all-round option.