The Punjab Kings (PBKS) experienced a dreadful outing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The KL Rahul-led side failed to qualify for the playoffs and finished at the sixth spot in the points table.
Ahead of the fourteenth season of the cash-rich league, the Mohali-based franchise released few big fishes like Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham and Sheldon Cottrell. They roped in some quality players such as Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith and Moises Henriques.
With the addition of some fresh faces, Punjab will focus on winning their maiden IPL trophy in the forthcoming edition, which starts on April 9. The 2014 runners-up will begin their IPL 2021 journey on April 12 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Let’s have a look at Punjab Kings’ ideal playing XI in IPL 2021:
Openers: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal
In the previous season, skipper KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal opened the innings, which brought a lot of success for Punjab. They are likely to stick with the same opening pair in the upcoming season of the lucrative league.
Both Rahul and Mayank had a tremendous season with the willow during IPL 2020. While Rahul topped the batting charts with 670 runs from 14 games, Mayank was Punjab’s second-leading run-getter with 424 runs from 11 matches.
Middle-order: Chris Gayle, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh
Chris Gayle is known for leaving his impact in every game he plays, and he did that last year as well. However, Gayle missed out on the first half of IPL 2020, but he shined with the bat during the second half of the tournament. In seven games, the Jamaican cricketer managed to score 288 runs with three fifties.
Gayle will hold the middle-order of Punjab Kings in IPL 2021 along with Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh. Both Sarfaraz and Mandeep has rich experience of the exciting league, which will eventually help the side.
Finisher: Nicholas Pooran
Nicholas Pooran is currently in fine form, and he is the ‘Trump Card of Punjab team. In the last edition, Pooran scored 353 runs from 14 games at a phenomenal strike rate of close to 170. The Caribbean superstar is a hard-hitter of the ball and possesses a quality of smashing the bowlers from the word go. He will yet again play a crucial role of a finisher in the side.
Another advantage of having Pooran in the playing XI is that he is a livewire on the field and often produces mind-boggling efforts to keep the team’s energy alive.
Bowlers: Jhye Richardson, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan, Arshdeep Singh
Like the previous edition, Mohammed Shami will lead the pace attack featuring Chris Jordan, Arshdeep Singh and the new-recruit Jhye Richardson. While Jordan and Arshdeep both played for Punjab last year, Richardson will be debuting for the team in IPL 2021.
Shami was, in fact, the leading wicket-taker for his side in IPL 2020, taking as many as 20 wickets from 14 matches. On the other hand, Arshdeep and Jordon picked up nine scalps each. Speaking about Richardson, the right-armer had a tremendous Big Bash League (BBL) 2020-21. Richardson had taken 29 wickets from 17 matches with two 4-fers as well.
The responsibility of spin will be given to last year’s sensation Ravi Bishnoi. The right-arm spinner was the second-highest wicket-taker for Punjab in IPL 2020. He bagged 12 scalps from 14 games, with 3/29 being his best.
Here is Punjab Kings’ ideal playing XI:
- KL Rahul – Matches: 81; Runs: 2647; Average: 44.86; 100’s: 2; 50’s: 21
- Mayank Agarwal – Matches: 88; Runs: 1690; Average: 21.12; 100’s: 1; 50’s: 7
- Chris Gayle – Matches: 132; Runs: 4772; Average: 41.13; 100’s: 6; 50’s: 31
- Sarfaraz Khan – Matches: 38; Runs: 441; Average: 25.94; 50’s: 1
- Mandeep Singh – Matches: 104; Runs: 1659; Average: 22.22; 50’s: 6
- Nicholas Pooran – Matches: 21; Runs: 521; Average: 32.56; 50’s: 2
- Chris Jordan – Matches: 20; Wickets: 21; Best: 4/11; Economy: 9.33
- Jhye Richardson (T20s) – Matches: 67; Wickets: 82; Best: 4/19; Economy: 7.92
- Mohammad Shami – Matches: 65; Wickets: 60; Best: 3/15; Economy: 8.89
- Ravi Bishnoi – Matches: 14; Wickets: 12; Best: 3/29; Economy: 7.37
- Arshdeep Singh – Matches: 11; Wickets: 12; Best: 3/23; Economy: 9.38