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Mayank Agarwal has been unveiled as the new captain of Punjab Kings, just under a month from the start of the 2022 edition of the IPL on March 26.
"I have been at Punjab Kings since 2018 and I take a lot of pride in representing this fantastic unit. I am delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the team," Agarwal, one of two players retained by the franchise ahead of the latest mega auction - medium-pacer Arshdeep Singh was the other - said in a statement issued by the Kings on Monday morning. "I take over this responsibility with utmost sincerity, but at the same time, I believe my job would be made easier with the talent we have at the Punjab Kings squad this season.
"We have some vastly experienced players in our ranks, along with many talented youngsters who are keen to grab the opportunity and run with it. We have always taken to the field hoping to win the title and as a team we will once again work towards this goal of lifting our maiden IPL trophy. I thank the team management for entrusting me with this new role of leading the side. I look forward to the new season and the new challenges it brings with it."
Agarwal, who has in the past turned out for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore, joined the Punjab franchise in 2018, when it was still called Kings XI Punjab. After a slow start - he scored 120 runs at a strike rate of 127.65 from 11 innings in his first season - he has been one of the team's leading batters. His 332 runs in 2019 came at a strike rate of 141.88, and as he forged a strong opening pairing with KL Rahul, the captain till last season, Agarwal scored 424 runs (SR 156.45) and 441 runs (SR 140.44) in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Overall, in 11 seasons of playing in the IPL, Agarwal has 2131 runs at an average of 23.41 and strike rate of 135.47.
"Mayank has been an integral part of the side since 2018 and of the leadership group for the last two years," Kings head coach Anil Kumble said. "The new squad we selected at the recently concluded auction has exciting young talent and outstanding experienced players. We want to create a strong foundation for the future with Mayank at the helm.
"He is hardworking, enthusiastic, a team player with all the attributes required of a leader. I look forward to working with him as captain and believe that he will lead this team to a successful campaign."
Though he has had a good run in the IPL over the years, Agarwal hasn't yet earned his India cap in T20Is. He was called up to the squad for the ongoing series at home against Sri Lanka, but only as an injury replacement for Ruturaj Gaikwad. Looked at as a long-format player by the national selectors, Agarwal has played 19 Tests (1429 runs at an average of 43.30) and five ODIs (86 runs at 17.20) so far.
In the 2022 IPL, though he won't have Rahul, his friend and colleague from Karnataka for many years, to work with. Rahul led the Punjab franchise for the last two seasons, but was acquired before the latest auction by new franchise Lucknow Super Giants, who have also named him their captain. His price tag of INR 17 crore (US$ 2.28 million approx.) made him the joint-highest-paid player in the IPL across seasons, along with Royal Challengers Bangalore's Virat Kohli. Kohli was signed for the same amount by Royal Challengers in 2018, ahead of the last mega IPL auction.
Agarwal does, however, have a strong unit at his disposal. At the recent auction, Kings spent a lot of money on Liam Livingstone, Kagiso Rabada, Shahrukh Khan and Shikhar Dhawan, who should be Agarwal's opening partner. They also have players like Jonny Bairstow and Odean Smith among overseas players, and locals like Rahul Chahar, Rishi Dhawan and Harpreet Brar, apart from Arshdeep.
Kings have been stacked with Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers and Gujarat Titans in Group B in the upcoming IPL.