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Rebranded Punjab Kings seek more stability in search of maiden title

Their new additions in the bowling department make them look a well-rounded unit

Varun Shetty
Varun Shetty

Where they finished in 2020

Sixth, best of three teams tied on 12 points

Potential XI

1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 KL Rahul (capt. and wk), 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Shahrukh Khan, 7 Chris Jordan/Fabian Allen, 8 Jhye Richardson, 9 M Ashwin, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ravi Bishnoi/Arshdeep Singh


Not a lot has changed about Punjab Kings' batting line-up. They continue to be a top-heavy side, with a blistering top four of Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. This is largely the line-up that helped them be one of the most consistent teams in the powerplays last year - they averaged 48.35 during that phase and lost only one wicket on average.
The area they had issues with is their batting beyond these four, and while things came together during the end of IPL 2020, there hasn't been a huge change in their roster. Glenn Maxwell and James Neesham are no longer with them, and potential replacements for them are Moises Henriques, Dawid Malan, and Fabian Allen. A change in strategy will either revolve around the stability that Henriques and Malan could provide - hence freeing up someone like Rahul early on - or the more ballistic option of banking on big-hitters like Allen and Shahrukh Khan. The reliance on uncapped top-order Indian batsmen in middle-order roles is likely to persist given the riches at the top and the fact that they have two breakneck overseas fast bowlers.
All in all, it's unlikely the flavour changes with their batting; it could be more of the same system, with the hope that their new personnel will fit better.


They've spent huge amounts to acquire fast bowlers Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, in what was a clear and purposeful move to strengthen their bowling. Last year, the Kings were joint-second with Delhi Capitals for fast bowling economy, going at 9.15, and their games often turned around when their new-ball efforts were neutralised at the death. Richardson should bring far more consistency to them and that means they have at least five bowlers settled in for regular roles - Shami, M Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh, and Ravi Bishnoi being the others.
We could see a lot of Henriques this season, as a sixth bowling option, and Allen as a spin-bowling allrounder could be battling directly with Chris Jordan for a place in the side; for cases when they want both Richardson and Meredith in the line-up, that bowling-centric strategy can be aided by the likes of Jalaj Saxena or Utkarsh Singh as No. 7 batsmen.

Young player to watch out for

Left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar flies so far under the radar that even at domestic level, he isn't often in headlines despite being one of Uttar Pradesh's most important players. The 27-year-old is among the most consistent cricketers in the domestic circuit, with bowling plans often built around his tight control of line and lengths. He matches the guile that's given him 192 first-class wickets at 23.44 with a strong game sense that's given him economy rates of 4.38 and 7.04 respectively in List A and T20 cricket. In another season of balancing their top and bottom, Kumar could prove a handy option for PBKS.

Coaching staff

Anil Kumble (director of cricket operations), Andy Flower (assistant coach), Wasim Jaffer (batting coach), Jonty Rhodes (fielding coach), Damien Wright (bowling coach)


Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo