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Punjab Kings part ways with Anil Kumble and look for new head coach

Franchise denies report quoting unnamed officials speculating on Mayank Agarwal's future as captain

Nagraj Gollapudi
Anil Kumble took charge of Punjab Kings in 2020  •  BCCI

Anil Kumble took charge of Punjab Kings in 2020  •  BCCI

Anil Kumble's stint as head coach at Punjab Kings has come to an end after the franchise decided not to renew his contract.
The decision to let Kumble go was taken by a board comprising multiple owners, including Bollywood actor Preity Zinta, industrialists Mohit Burman, Ness Wadia and Karan Paul and Kings' chief executive officer Satish Menon. It is learnt that they are on the lookout for a new coach, who will be announced soon.
Kumble joined Kings in 2020. In all three of the seasons that he was in charge of the team, they finished in the lower half of the IPL points table: sixth in both 2020 and 2021 when the league comprised eight teams, and sixth in 2022 when it expanded to a ten-team tournament.
At the time, Kumble was the fifth coach Kings had appointed in five seasons after Sanjay Bangar (2014-16), Virender Sehwag (2017), Brad Hodge (2018) and Mike Hesson (2019).
In 2020, Kumble was the only Indian head coach in IPL. Kings were the third IPL team he had worked with after his playing days, having earlier served as mentor for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians. This was before he took the job of India head coach for a year in 2016.
However, being at the helm of the Kings franchise whether as a captain or a coach, has never been an easy experience. Kumble, for example, was in charge of 42 matches. Kings won 19 and lost 23 under him. That is the second worst win-loss ratio for any team in IPL since 2020, only behind Sunrirsers Hyderabad.
One of the original eight teams in the IPL, Kings - erstwhile called Kings XI Punjab - have made the play-offs only twice, including an appearance in the final in 2014.
Constant chopping and changing of captains and coaches has hurt the franchise despite assembling a well-rounded squad at the 2022 auction. The big buys included the England pair of Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow, South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, senior India batter Shikar Dhawan, and West Indies bowling allrounder Odean Smith.
Ahead of the auction, Kings had retained the Indian pair of Mayank Agarwal and Arshdeep Singh.
While Arshdeep's skills and consistency made headlines during the tournament, and earned him a place in the national side, Agarwal struggled badly. Appointed as Kings' captain last season, he managed only 196 runs at an average of 16.33 and a strike rate of 122.5. This performance was in complete contrast to the way he played in three previous IPLs. In 2019, Agarwal scored 332 runs at a strike rate of 141.88; in 2020, he got 424 runs at 156.45 and in 2021, he made 441 runs at 140.44.
ESPNcricinfo experts Ravi Shastri and Daniel Vettori believed the question of whether or not to retain Agarwal as captain would be on top of the review list for Kings ahead of the 2023 season. Shastri felt that the added responsibility had an adverse effect on Agarwal's output as a batter, which in turn resulted in his missing out on being selected to the Indian team for a T20I series against South Africa in June immediately after the IPL.
Kings have refuted media reports quoting unnamed franchise officials speculating about Agarwal's future as captain. It has been learnt that a final call on the matter will be taken by the new head coach.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo