Punjab Kings IPL 2021 Preview: Where will the Kings finish?

The Kings XI Punjab return to action as the rebranded Punjab Kings and will be hoping the facelift will bring the change of fortune it gave Delhi when they moved from being known as the Daredevils to Capitals a couple of seasons ago.

Despite producing some great performances in recent years, Punjab has failed to make the playoffs since they were the beaten finalists in 2014. After the six seasons of frustration, they made several moves in the auction to fill some gaps in their existing squad. With money to spend they spent big on Australian fast bowlers Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith and also world no.1 T20I batsman Dawid Malan.

Captain KL Rahul will be wiser after his first full season as an IPL skipper and there will be plenty of hope in the camp.

Punjab Kings IPL Record

08

09

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

SF

5th

8th

5th

6th

6th

2nd

8th

8th

5th

7th

6th

6th

PLAYING SQUAD

KL Rahul (c), Ishan Porel, Sarfaraz Khan, Murugan Ashwin, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Mohammed Shami, Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Arshdeep Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Fabian Allen, Utkarsh Singh, Jalaj Saxena, Moises Henriques, Riley Meredith, Shahrukh Khan, Jhye Richardson, Dawid Malan.

COACHING SETUP

KL Rahul (Captain), Anil Kumble (head coach), Andy Flower (asst coach), Wasim Jaffer (batting coach), Damien Wright (bowling coach), Jonty Rhodes (fielding coach).

AUCTION ACTIVITY 2021

INS: Jhye Richardson (RS 14.00 crore), Riley Meredith (RS 8.00 crore), Shahrukh Khan (Rs 5.25 crore), Moises Henriques (RS 4.20 crore), Dawid Malan (RS 1.5 crore), Fabian Allen (Rs 75 lakh), Jalaj Saxena (Rs 30 lakh), Saurabh Kumar (Rs 20 lakh), Utkarsh Singh (Rs 20 lakh).

OUTS: Glenn Maxwell, Karun Nair, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sheldon Cottrell, Jimmy Neesham, Hardus Viljoen, Tajinder Singh (all released).

PUNJAB KINGS’ CHANCES in 2021

The Punjab Kings had plenty of cash to splash at the 2021 IPL player auction after releasing nine players. With their Rs 53.20 crore available they beat off plenty of interest to take two fast bowlers in Jhye Richardson at Rs 14 crore and Riley Meredith at Rs 8 crore.

Shahrukh Khan, the XX-year-old uncapped all-rounder cost them Rs 5.25 crore, Australian all-rounder Moises Henriques was snapped up for Rs 4.2 crore and England batsman Dawid Malan may prove a bargain at only RS 1.5 crore.

The purchase of the Aussie pace duo has given Punjab a bit more fire in their attack and it will be interesting to see if the new players can gel with the existing core group.

Punjab Kings have some baggage to shed if they are to make the playoffs after six seasons of disappointment, but they have an exciting squad and will be in the mix.

KEY PLAYERS

KL RAHUL was impressive in his first year as captain and his 670 tournament runs won him the Orange Cap as the IPL’s leading run-scorer, including a top score of 132 not out, which was the highest score ever by an Indian player in the competition. Despite his prolific season, he garnered a bit of criticism for a strike rate of 129.34. Many felt he could have gone quicker but, with a middle-order that wasn’t firing consistently, he took it on his shoulders to take the responsibility. With some more firepower beneath him this season, expect KL to be a little more expansive.

JHYE RICHARDSON is the big price addition to the Punjab side and will feel pressure to live up to his price tag of RS 14.00 crore. The 24-year-old quick was superb for the Perth Scorchers in the last Big Bash as he grabbed 29 wickets at an economy rate of only 7.69. If he can replicate that sort of return it will be a huge boost for Punjab, but it remains to be seen whether his style of bowling, which benefits from swing, will be as potent on Indian surfaces.

DAWID MALAN has worked hard to give himself a strong T20 game and, in his 24th innings during the recent series against India, the left-hander beat Babar Azam’s record as the fastest man to 1,000 T20I runs. Like Rahul, he has been criticised for a slow strike rate in his early innings. He is a player that then explodes but if he falls before the explosion comes it can look pedestrian. If Rahul and Malan find a way to be productive in the same team it could be a match made in heaven. Malan’s presence could free Rahul up to be more aggressive.

YOUNGSTER TO WATCH: RAVI BISHNOI

Bishnoi was one of the young finds last season with 12 wickets at a very respectable economy rate of 7.37. The 20-year-old leggie was one of the standout performers at the Under-19 World Cup last year and he could be a long-term success in the IPL. He will have to guard against second season syndrome as a batsman will be ready for him this time, but he has shown an appetite for a challenge and has a useful habit of taking big scalps at exactly the right time.

WHERE WILL PUNJAB KINGS FINISH?

Punjab could surprise a few this season as they have increased solidity in their top order, some big hitters, and a bowling attack with a bit more bite. But it may not be enough to break into the top four.

Prediction: 6th

James Buttler is a cricket journalist, broadcaster and host of the Cricket Badger Podcast. You can tune into the IPL Daily editions here: https://podfollow.com/cricket-badger-podcast

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