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Punjab Kings set to join the race for an overseas allrounder

They have the second largest purse at the auction and can afford to push hard for a marquee signing

Ashish Pant
Who they've got
Punjab Kings let go of nine players before the auction, with Mayank Agarwal and Odean Smith the biggest names in that list. Shikhar Dhawan and Jonny Bairstow are expected to open, with the likes of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Liam Livingstone and Shahrukh Khan likely to form the middle order. Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh will be leaders in the bowling unit.
Current squad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Shahrukh Khan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Raj Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Nathan Ellis, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar
What they have to play with
Punjab head into the auction with the second-largest purse of INR 32.2 crore and could go all out for the players they want. They currently have 16 players on their roster, including five overseas players. They have space for three overseas buys and a total of nine players.
What they need
  • For starters, Punjab need replacements for Agarwal and Smith. While the current opening batters have a lot of game time under their belts, they could look at getting a No. 3, preferably an Indian batter.
  • Punjab could break their bank for an overseas allrounder who could also sort out their balance in the middle order.
  • Rahul Chahar is their main spin-bowling option, but Punjab could look for another spinner. They also need an Indian fast bowler as they play their home games in Mohali and Dharamsala, where the surfaces have historically aided pace.
  • The likely targets
    Punjab might consider buying Agarwal back at the auction, but if that doesn't happen, they could potentially target Manish Pandey for the No. 3 slot. The batter was in excellent form in the 2022 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, leading the run charts for Karnataka. He has also played under Trevor Bayliss - the new Punjab coach - at Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014.
    For the overseas allrounder spot, Punjab will compete with many teams for either Sam Curran, who has played for them previously, or Ben Stokes. Stokes could play a similar steadying role to what he does for England in the middle order. Cameron Green, who might fit into the top order too, is another option.
    Shakib Al Hasan is also an option because he can bowl in the powerplay and solves their second-spinner issue. Among other spin options, Shreyas Gopal and M Ashwin could serve as back-up for Chahar, while Punjab could also look at Adam Zampa as an option.
    As far as Indian fast bowlers go, Shivam Mavi, who had a decent season with Uttar Pradesh, could be a potential target. Punjab could also look at the two Karnataka pacers - Vidwath Kaverappa and Vijaykumar Vyshak - who averaged less than 13 with economy rates of under 6.5 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament this year.

    Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo