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Punjab Kings: Another new captain and coach for a new season

No Bairstow as Dhawan joins forces with Bayliss to try and lead the franchise into the playoffs for the first time since 2014

Ashish Pant
27-Mar-2023 • Updated on 29-Mar-2023

Where Punjab Kings finished last season

Sixth place, with seven wins and seven losses.

Punjab Kings squad for IPL 2023

Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Matthew Short, Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shahrukh Khan, Sikandar Raza, Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Nathan Ellis, Baltej Singh, Sam Curran, Kagiso Rabada, Harpreet Brar, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Bhatia, Vidwath Kaverappa, Shivam Singh, Mohit Rathee

Player availability - No Jonny Bairstow for IPL 2023

Punjab Kings were dealt a big blow leading into the tournament with Jonny Bairstow ruled out as he continues to recover from a leg injury that he suffered in September last year while playing golf. Australia allrounder Matthew Short, who had an excellent BBL 2022-23 season where he was named Player of the Tournament, was named his replacement.
Kings will also be without Kagiso Rabada for at least their first match, against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 1 in Mohali. He will join the squad only on April 3, after completing South Africa's ODI series against the Netherlands.
Liam Livingstone too will miss their first game, as he completes the final steps of his rehab following a knee injury that he picked on England's Pakistan tour in December.*

What's new with Punjab Kings this year

For starters, they have a new captain in Shikhar Dhawan, who has replaced Mayank Agarwal. Dhawan was bought at the 2022 auction and was Kings' top-scorer last season with 460 runs in 14 innings.
Kings went into the 2023 auction with the second-largest purse of INR 32.2 crore and spent more than half of that on Sam Curran, making him the most expensive buy at an IPL auction. They also acquired Sikandar Raza for INR 50 lakh as back-up for Livingstone.
Punjab's backroom staff has also undergone a complete overhaul. They brought in Trevor Bayliss as head coach in place of Anil Kumble, reappointed Wasim Jaffer as batting coach, brought in Sunil Joshi as the spin-bowling coach, and Charl Langeveldt as bowling coach. Brad Haddin was named assistant coach.

The good - Sam Curran and Co offer depth in pace

Even with Bairstow unavailable, Kings have a strong overseas contingent. His replacement Short was the second-highest run-getter in BBL 2022-23 and also picked up 11 wickets at an economy of 7.13. Livingstone and Bhanuka Rajapaksa were impressive last season while Raza comes in high on confidence having been part of the victorious Lahore Qalandars in PSL 2023, which capped an outstanding few months for him.
Kings have the likes of Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and Curran forming the core of the pace attack. They also have allrounder Rishi Dhawan to back up the frontline seamers. The surfaces in Mohali and Dharamsala, Kings' home grounds, have been conducive to pace in the past and the quicks could be a handful there.
Kings boast of a power-packed batting unit. Livingstone has a career T20 strike rate of 146.11, Prabhsimran 137.94, Rajapaksa 135.52 and Jitesh Sharma 147.93. Dhawan has consistently been a quick accumulator of runs.

The not-so-good - How do Kings fill the Bairstow gap?

While they have back-up wicketkeepers in the squad, Bairstow's unavailability means there is uncertainty around Dhawan's opening partner. Short is an opener and was successful in that role in the BBL, but he has never played in the IPL, which is a different kettle of fish. Kings might also look to open with Prabhsimran or Rajapaksa, who can go big from the get-go.
Livingstone's lack of game time is also a concern. He has been recovering from his knee injury and last played competitive cricket in December 2022. He could be rusty when he comes in for Kings' second game.
The absence of a prominent second spinner to back up Rahul Chahar might hurt Kings, especially in spin-friendly conditions. They have Harpreet Brar, but he has often blown hot and cold in previous editions.

Schedule insights

Kings will be travelling throughout IPL 2023. They do not have two consecutive home games until their last two league matches on May 17 and 19, both of which will be in Dharamsala. Fatigue could be a factor.

The big question

*The preview was updated when news came in of Liam Livingstone's unavailability for Kings' first game.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo