With a new logo, new jersey and a revamped squad, Punjab Kings are eying a change in fortunes as they chase the elusive Indian Premier League (IPL) title. After a roller-coaster ride in the UAE last year, both captain KL Rahul and head coach Anil Kumble would want more consistency as they look to finish inside the top 4 this year.
Punjab Kings were reeling at the bottom of the table at the half-way mark with just 1 win but they had a remarkable late surge, winning 5 of their next 7. However, it was not enough as the star-studded side finished sixth with just 2 points separating them and 4th-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Despite having Anil Kumble at the helm, Punjab Kings were not able to find the ideal combination for their side until the half-way mark. Chris Gayle was benched for the first half but he helped change the fortunes of the team when he walked into the XI, adding balance to the side at the top.
In spite of the impressive 2nd half, Punjab Kings went for a massive overhaul as they released as many as 9 players and headed into the auction with the biggest purse. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham and Sheldon Cottrel, K Gowtham and Karun Nair were let go before the auction in February.
Punjab Kings are not going to fiddle much with their top-order but they have added firepower to the middle-order. With the arrival of World No. 1 Dawid Malan, Punjab Kings have stability in the middle-order which would give the licence to the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran and Chris Gayle to go big.
Having let go of Maxwell and Neesham, Punjab Kings have brought in Moises Henriques and Fabian Allen. While Henriques is a proven customer in the shortest format of the game, Allen's explosive hitting and ability to bowl left-arm spin is a welcome addition to the Kings.
All eyes will be on Shah Rukh Khan, who has been in fine hitting form for Tamil Nadu in the white-ball domestic tournaments. Last year, the Kings failed to find late pushes as they were top heavy but the addition of the likes of Shah Rukh and Jalaj Saxena along with Mandeep Singh will add more firepower to the lower-middle order.
Punjab Kings spent big on Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, hitting they are going to go pace heavy. Along with Mohammed Shami, the Kings have a lot of firepower in their pace attack. The likes of Chris Jordan, Arshedeep Singh and Ishan Poren give the Kings plenty of options to choose from.
Punjab Kings have a settled top-order with KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwral, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. Dawid Malan can be used in place of Gayle or can be used as a floater in the line-up.
Mandeep Singh is likely to find a place in the middle-order along with Shah Rukh Khan who is expected to play a crucial role for the Kings. KL Rahul's men have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the all-rounders -- Chris Jordan, Moises Henrqiues, Fabian Allen and Deepak Hooda.
Leg-spinners Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi would want to continue the good work that they managed last season while Mohammed Shami will lead the pace attack that has the highly-rated Richardson.
The Kings can also leave out one of their wrist-spinners to add an extra all-rounder or a pacer, something that they were not able to do last year. However, finding the right combination early in the season will be key to the Kings' chances as they had struggled to do so last season.
IPL 2021: Schedule for Punjab Kings
April 12, 2021 (Monday), 7:30 pm IST, Mumbai - Rajasthan Royals Vs Punjab Kings
April 16, 2021 (Friday), 7:30 pm IST, Mumbai - Punjab Kings Vs Chennai Super Kings
April 18, 2021 (Sunday), 7:30 pm IST, Mumbai - Delhi Capitals Vs Punjab Kings
April 21, 2021 (Wednesday), 3:30 pm IST, Chennai - Punjab Kings Vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
April 23, 2021 (Friday), 7:30 pm IST, Chennai - Punjab Kings Vs Mumbai Indians
April 26, 2021 (Monday), 7:30 pm IST, Ahmedabad - Punjab Kings Vs Kolkata Knight Riders
April 30, 2021 (Friday), 7:30 pm IST, Ahmedabad - Punjab Kings Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
May 02, 2021 (Sunday), 7:30 pm IST, Ahmedabad - Punjab Kings Vs Delhi Capitals
May 06, 2021 (Thursday), 7:30 pm IST, Ahmedabad - Royal Challengers Bangalore Vs Punjab Kings
May 09, 2021 (Sunday), 3:30 pm IST, Bengaluru -Chennai Super Kings Vs Punjab Kings
May 13, 2021 (Thursday), 3:30 pm IST, Bengaluru - Mumbai Indians Vs Punjab Kings
May 15, 2021 (Saturday), 7:30 pm IST, Bengaluru - Kolkata Knight Riders Vs Punjab Kings
May 19, 2021 (Wednesday), 7:30 pm IST, Bengaluru - Sunrisers Hyderabad Vs Punjab Kings
May 22, 2021 (Saturday), 7:30 pm IST, Bengaluru - Punjab Kings Vs Rajasthan Royals
Punjab Kings - Full squad for IPL 2021
KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Prabhsimran Singh, Mohammed Shami, Chris Jordan, Darshan Nalkande, Ravi Bishnoi, Murugan Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh, Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar.