Time is fast running out for the Punjab Kings (PBKS) as they take on the high-flying Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL).
With two wins in six games and the second-worst net run rate in the competition, PBKS languish at sixth spot on the IPL points table 2021. They desperately need a win against a team they beat twice last year in RCB, who are placed third with five wins from six games.
The PBKS think tank has some work to do ahead of the RCB match. Here are 3 areas of concern the team need to address ahead of their IPL 2021 match on April 30.
#3 PBKS need to iron out the kinks in their batting approach
The PBKS batting lineup, especially the top order, was expected to be the team's biggest strength in IPL 2021. But almost halfway through the league stage, none of the top five batsmen have made an impression. A key contributing factor to PBKS' slump is their approach to batting, which has been puzzling.
KL Rahul came into this tournament with his coaches claiming he'll be aggressive, but his strike rate has only dipped when compared to last year. Mayank Agarwal, his opening partner, has either seen wickets tumble at the other end or found himself back in the hut after a scratchy innings.
Chris Gayle has a couple of forties to his name, but he too has been out of sorts and has rarely showed intent at the crease. Nicholas Pooran has been one of PBKS' worst players, not showing any consistency and frequently finding ways to get out cheaply. Deepak Hooda's form has fallen off after a bright start to IPL 2021, while Shahrukh Khan has never come into bat with his side in a promising position.
To fix this problem, PBKS need to ascertain how they are going to approach their batting innings, especially in the powerplay. Rahul and Mayank must establish clearly defined roles, and carry out the same without fear of failure.
#2 PBKS still don't have a balanced playing XI
The absence of all-rounders in the squad was expected to be a problem for PBKS in IPL 2021, and it certainly has been. Not a single player has frequently contributed in both departments, leaving the team short in either batting or bowling in almost every game.
Spin-bowling all-rounders Jalaj Saxena and Fabian Allen didn't make heads turn when they were part of the playing XI, while Moises Henriques' batting form has been woeful. Jhye Richardson lost his place in the side soon after making his IPL debut, and Chris Jordan has been expensive in the only game he has played, although he did contribute some handy runs with the bat.
PBKS are desperate for a couple of all-rounders who will add balance to their XI, but it's tough to see where they'll find such players. The domestic contingent in the franchise doesn't inspire confidence, and the overseas players aren't proven performers.
PBKS might need to get a few more overs out of Hooda and possibly even Shahrukh Khan, while hoping the fast-bowling all-rounders make some runs.
Also see: KKR vs RCB head to head stats
#1 Key PBKS players have blown hot and cold in IPL 2021
While PBKS haven't been among the more impressive teams in IPL 2021, there's no doubting the star power on the roster.
One of the greatest IPL batsmen in Chris Gayle takes up one of the four overseas slots, while the most consistent batsmen over the last few years in the league skippers the side. Exciting young talents like Hooda, Pooran and Shahrukh man the middle order, guaranteeing box office entertainment whenever PBKS take to the field.
Even in the pace department, India spearhead Mohammed Shami commandeers the attack, with support from upcoming prospects Ravi Bishnoi and Arshdeep Singh. But despite having so many IPL stars, PBKS have been unable to get the most out of them so far.
The key players in the side haven't made the rest of the franchises in IPL 2021 sit up and take notice. If the Mohali-based franchise are to get their campaign back on track with a win against RCB, the biggest names in the XI need to come to the party.