Punjab Kings lost their two star Australian players -- Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith -- before the second phase of IPL 2021. Both fast bowlers will miss the remainder of the tournament because of fitness issues.
The Mohali-based franchise signed Nathan Ellis as one of two replacements for the injured duo. One spot still remains vacant in the Punjab Kings' overseas department. The team's CEO, Satish Menon, informed InsideSport yesterday:
“We tried convincing the players but they were not ready to come, we respect the decision. We are in talks with few players. Our head coach Anil Kumble will finalize one soon in next 2-3 days. Nathan Ellis already has been signed for the UAE leg.”
Likely candidates to join Punjab Kings as replacements
With the Punjab Kings set to finalize their replacement soon, here's a look at the top three candidates to take the vacant spot in the Mohali-based franchise.
1. James Faulkner
Not many fans would remember that James Faulkner played a couple of matches for the Punjab Kings (then known as Kings XI Punjab) in IPL 2012. The very next season, he moved to the Rajasthan Royals and earned his stripes as one of the league's best all-rounders.
Unfortunately, injuries derailed Faulkner's IPL career. But the Australian could return to the league in the second phase of IPL 2021. Faulkner performed exceptionally well for the Lahore Qalandars in the second phase of Pakistan Super League 2021, which was also played in the UAE.
With the Gulf nation hosting the second phase of IPL 2021 as well, it won't be a surprise if Faulkner returns to the Mohali-based franchise.
2. Sheldon Cottrell
Sheldon Cottrell made his IPL debut with the Punjab Kings in IPL 2020. He performed decently in the United Arab Emirates, but the Mohali-based franchise decided against retaining him for IPL 2021.
Cottrell scalped six wickets in six IPL games last year, with his best being 2/17. Barring the game against the Rajasthan Royals, where Rahul Tewatia scored 30 runs in his one over, Cottrell did not do a bad job for Punjab.
Perhaps the Punjab Kings can give the Caribbean pacer one more opportunity to prove himself this year.
3. Fidel Edwards
Another Caribbean pacer to feature in the list is veteran Fidel Edwards. The 39-year-old from Barbados returned to the West Indies T20I team earlier this year.
Edwards was a member of the Deccan Chargers squad that lifted the IPL trophy in 2009. After DC released him, none of the franchises showed interest in his services.
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He could make a return to the IPL in 2021 because he too has played cricket in the UAE this year. Fidel represented the Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10 League and bowled some fiery spells in the competition.
Punjab Kings may be reluctant to sign him because of the age factor, but the team management should note that the UAE leg will feature just seven to ten matches.