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IPL 2021: 3 changes that can get Punjab Kings back on track

The Punjab Kings need to perform well as a unit to win (Pic courtesy: Cricket Addictor)
The Punjab Kings need to perform well as a unit to win (Pic courtesy: Cricket Addictor)
Prasham Pratap
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Three weeks into the IPL, Punjab Kings find themselves struggling in the bottom half of the table, yet again.

While it is the Rajasthan Royals' (RR) weakened squad - as result of injuries and dropouts - that has accounted for most of their misfortune this season, teams such as Punjab Kings (PBKS) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are clearly underperforming.

Punjab had the deepest pockets in this year's auction, with which they added some big names to their roster. However, the choices they have made for their playing XI have surprised many. The new team name (they were earlier Kings XI Punjab), logo and jerseys have failed to bring them any luck either.

Currently, PBKS are sixth on the table, having won just two of their six games. There are a lot of things that are not going their way. We suggest three changes that could help them improve their results going forward.


3. KL Rahul's batting approach

KL Rahul's strike rate needs a hike (Pic Courtesy: iplt20.com)
KL Rahul's strike rate needs a hike (Pic Courtesy: iplt20.com)

Before the season started, the team management stated that their captain, KL Rahul, will be his attacking self in this year's IPL. However, after six games, the results have not borne witness to that claim.

Though the top run-getter of 2020 is in the running for another orange cap, Rahul's knocks have not had the desired impact. He has struggled to accelerate even after getting his eye in. Since Rahul's quick-fire 91 off 50 balls in Punjab's opening match of the season against Rajasthan, his strike-rate has not crossed 120 in any of the following games.

These are his scores in IPL 2021 so far:

  • Match 1: 91(50) v RR
  • Match 2: 5(7) v CSK
  • Match 3: 61(51) v DC
  • Match 4: 4(6) v SRH
  • Match 5: 60(52) not out v MI
  • Match 6: 19(20) v KKR

The two matches Punjab have won were against RR and MI, where he either played a quick knock or remained undismissed.

The wicketkeeper-batsman is the most important cog in the Punjab Kings machine and he needs to play with more freedom if the team hope to turn the tables and have any chance of going all the way.

2. Dropping Nicholas Pooran

Nicholas Pooran has not been among the runs for PBKS (courtesy: iplt20.com)
Nicholas Pooran has not been among the runs for PBKS (courtesy: iplt20.com)

Nicholas Pooran was Punjab's X-factor last year in the UAE, when his strike-rate averaged nearly 170. However, this season, he has looked but a pale shadow of his former self.

The Trinidadian has scored just 28 runs in six games in IPL 2021 at a strike rate of under 100. It's high time Punjab Kings moved on. They have Dawid Malan in their ranks - the batsman who holds the top spot in the ICC rankings in T20Is. However, Punjab are yet to field him.

If Dawid Malan makes it into the team, he could anchor the middle order, giving more freedom to the captain to score runs at the top. As a result, he could strengthen the team's batting unit and help reduce the burden on KL Rahul, whereby the skipper can have more clarity on what his approach should be.

Moreover, with Deepak Hooda among the runs this season, Nicholas Pooran is not a player that PBKS will necessarily need in the middle order.

1. Stop experimenting

Shami, Bishnoi, Arshdeep and Jordan have to be their first choice bowlers in almost all games
Shami, Bishnoi, Arshdeep and Jordan have to be their first choice bowlers in almost all games

Punjab are one game away from completing half of their league fixtures this season. And in this time, they have made a lot of changes to their bowling line-up. Apart from Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh, all the bowlers have been uncertain of their place in the side.

PBKS started the season with Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith in place of Chris Jordan and Moises Henriques. Jordan should have been an automatic selection to the final XI, given his performances last year. The team think-tank, instead, decided to go with their new big-money acquisitions.

After just three games, both Richardson and Meredith were dropped and Henriques got his chance. Jordan made it into the playing XI only in the sixth game.

Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi did not feature in the first four games, another bizarre decision given how well he bowled for PBKS in his debut season in 2020. Jalaj Saxena and Fabian Allen even got a go before the young Bishnoi.

Given how their season has progressed, the Punjab Kings management should simply stick to their best XI and back them to win games.

While the batting line-up can do with Dawid Malan replacing a rusty Pooran, their bowling line-up must be the one they played in their game against the Kolkata Knight Riders. With Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and Chris Jordan as their pacers and Ravi Bishnoi as their principal spinner, Deepak Hooda can chip in as a part-timer. With their bowling order sorted out, Punjab must rotate between Jhye Richardson, Moises Henriques and Fabian Allen based on playing conditions.

If the Punjab Kings can commit to these modifications, they should theoretically be a much better side and might just start winning games again.

Edited by Iman Guha
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