Punjab Kings have rebranded themselves for the 14th season
of the IPL and will be hoping this change of identity can lead to a change of
fortunes on the field. KXIP retained most of their core from IPL 2020 and added
some smart buys in the auction including the likes of Jhye Richardson, Fabian
Allen and Shah Rukh Khan. After a disastrous start to IPL 2020, Punjab
recovered well and were only one win away from sealing a play-off spot and will
be hoping their improved balance can do the trick this time around.
Punjab have arguably the strongest top order in the IPL with
KL, Mayank, Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. KL Rahul played the anchor role
incredibly well last year and ended the season as the top run-getter while Mayank
and Pooran are fast-starters and scored over 350 runs each in IPL 2020 at
strike rates of 156 and 166 respectively.
Punjab had a terrible bowling powerplay record in IPL 2020
where they picked up the fewest wickets (13) but have addressed that with the
additions of Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith who both bowl express pace.
They are also now well covered with their bowling at the death given that they
have a variety of options in Shami, Richardson or Chris Jordan.
One issue for Punjab is a lack of batting depth after the
top 4 and they will be relying on inexperienced players such as Deepak Hooda
and Shah Rukh Khan to provide some middle-order hitting.
Also, Moises Henriques is the only player who can
potentially play in the top 6 and bowl a few overs and hence if he is not in
the XI, KL Rahul will only have five bowlers to work with which is often a
recipe for disaster in T20 cricket. Punjab also don’t have a top-quality
off-spinner in their squad with the departure of Maxwell which limits their
tactical flexibility when it comes to match-ups against teams with many
Player to watch out for: Chris Gayle
Having Chris Gayle in your team is often a double-edged
sword because he plays a high percentage of dot balls early on in his innings.
If Gayle converts his starts into big scores, Punjab will benefit but if he
fails to do so it could hamper the tempo of the innings. It will be interesting
to see how much Chris Gayle can give the team at age 41 or if the team will
turn to the number one ranked T20 batsman Dawid Malan instead.
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Moises
Henriques, Shah Rukh Khan, Jhye Richardson, Mohammad Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ravi
Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin