IPL 2021 | Punjab Kings Road to UAE: It wasn’t smooth sailing but greater challenges lie ahead

Abhishek Singh

Abhishek Singh

Author| Sep 15, 7:16 PM

PC- Twitter
PC- Twitter

The Punjab Kings started the 2021 IPL season with a change in name, hoping that it would bring a change in the fortune of the team as well. The team, which hadn’t tasted success since 2014 by remaining out of the top four thought that the change in the name would bring some change in the fortune too. However, that hasn’t been the case so far with the Kings winning only three of their eight games of IPL 2021.

The journey so far

The IPL 2021 started in a great way for the Kings when they defeated Rajasthan Royals in a close encounter by four runs. KL Rahul and Deepak Hooda were the heroes of the game for the team even as Saju Samson’s century almost won it for the Royals. 

In their second game, the Kings tasted defeat as they were decimated by the Chennai Super Kings when Deepak Chahar ran through the defences of the Punjab players. Post the Supekings humiliation, the Kings lost one more game in Mumbai where they were outdone by the Delhi Capitals, courtesy of a Shikhar Dhawan masterclass with the bat. 

From Mumbai, the caravan of the Kings moved to Chennai, but without much change in the fortunes as they once again folded for a low total against Sunrisers Hyderabad and were mauled by nine wickets. 

Just when it seemed that this season is going to be no different story for the Kings, having lost three back to back games, they sprang up a surprise and won against the defending champions Mumbai Indians. 

In the game against Mumbai, the bowlers were at their level best and so were the batsmen in skipper Rahul and experienced Chris Gayle. But in the very next game against the Kolkata Knight Riders, the same batsmen failed and it became very difficult to understand the trajectory of the Kings in the season. 

The difficulty only increased when they came back in the next game once again and beat the then table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore defending 179 and getting the opposition restricted to 145 in the 20 overs. In that game, a star was found in the form of Harpreet Brar for Punjab Kings who removed three greats AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Glen Maxwell in the very same game. 

However, in their last game in the India leg, Punjab Kings, who were thinking of getting a move on after a great win over RCB, were overhauled by Delhi capitals and Shikhar Dhawan once again. 

New signings: Blessing in disguise?

The changes that Punjab Kings were forced to make for the UAE leg of the league might actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The two Aussie pacers in Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson which they bought at hefty amounts for the first leg didn’t really prove their mettle much and hence signing an all-rounder Nathan Ellis and spinner Adil Rashid in their place makes a lot of sense. 

Dawid Malan’s unavailability is unfortunate as he looked in good touch. But the replacement Aiden Markram has been equally good and that too on spinning tracks in Sri Lanka, making it a great replacement. The fact that Markram can roll his arm over if needed, makes him an even better prospect at the top of the order. 

Final PBKS Squad

Batsmen: Aiden Markram, KL Rahul (C&WK), Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Prabsimran Singh, and Sarfaraz Khan.

All-rounders: Chris Gayle, Darshan Nalkande, Deepak Hooda, Fabien Allen, Harpreet Brar, Jalaj Saxena, Moises Henriques, Saurabh Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, and Utkarsh Singh.

Bowlers: Adil Rashid, Arshdeep Singh, Chris Jordan, Ishan Porel, Mohammed Shami, Murugan Ashwin, Nathan Ellis, and Ravi Bishnoi.

What to expect in the UAE leg?

With three wins from eight games, the Kings are currently sitting in the sixth position on the points table and the next six matches are as crucial as it gets for them to finally make it to the Playoffs of the IPL. 

To make the Playoffs, they would need their new foreign recruits as well as old ones, especially Nicholas Pooran, who has been in great form in the CPL 2021 to come good. They need at least four victories to come in the contention for a playoff spot and to win four out of six is not going to be easy. But then what is victory if it comes easy, cause it never has. 

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