Punjab Kings (PBKS), formerly known as Kings XI Punjab, are one of the most underachieving sides in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Having qualified for the playoffs just twice in 14 seasons, PBKS are one of three teams yet to win the competition.
The Punjab Kings, under KL Rahul, had a disastrous start to their campaign last season but made a late surge, only to narrowly miss out on the playoffs. One of the major factors behind that surge was Chris Gayle, who put up quite a show in the second half of IPL 2020 after not playing the first seven games.
While that performance could prompt the Punjab Kings to start with Gayle in their playing XI in IPL 2021, it is indeed interesting to see the combinations that the team could go with, especially their overseas contingent.
In 2020, PBKS staged a turnaround once Chris Gayle came into the XI, but that came too late for them to reach the playoffs. Thus the Punjab Kings would look to avoid keeping the Universe Boss out of their playing XI this time.
Three possible overseas combinations for Punjab Kings in IPL 2021:
Ahead of the 14th edition of the IPL, the Punjab Kings made some interesting buys to address some of the issues that plagued them last year.
On that note, let's take a look at three possible overseas combinations the Punjab Kings could field in IPL 2021.
#1 Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Jhye Richardson, Chris Jordan
Chris Gayle missed seven games for the Punjab Kings last season, owing to the team management's decision to keep him out and the player falling ill.
But once he was out on the field, there was no looking back. The Universe Boss almost instantly made an impact, helping his side stage a dramatic comeback in the tournament after being down and out. Gayle is almost sure to feature in the XI this season, and like last year, he is likely to bat at no. 3 instead of opening the batting.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Pooran is one of the best middle order batsmen in T20 cricket at the moment, considering his ability to clear the field with ease, especially against the spinners. Pooran is PBKS' middle order mainstay who could be entrusted to take on the spinners. Thus Nicholas Pooran's place in the playing XI is also a no-brainer, and he should play all 14 games.
The Punjab Kings' new recruit, Jhye Richardson, comes in with a lot of expectations. He will likely be tasked with the responsibility of bowling the difficult overs at the start as well as at the death. With the pace he brings in, and given the fact that he can be a hard hitter down the order, he could be a genuine contender to start in the XI.
Meanwhile, the experienced Chris Jordan started off poorly last season. But as the season wore on, Jordan rediscovered his rhythm. Known for his pace variations and accuracy at the death, Jordan could be the team's go-to option in the death overs, which was one of their weak links last season.
Probable Playing XI:
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Chris Jordan, Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi, M Ashwin, Mohammed Shami.
#2 Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Jhye Richardson
The Punjab Kings are a side whose strongest XI is such that their top six cannot bowl. So more often than not, they have to play with just five bowlers.
In that case, the recent signing of Moises Henriques makes a lot of sense. Though Henriques has not bowled much in recent times, he could surely roll his arms over to slip in a few overs as and when necessary.
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Henriques would solve two major issues: experience in the lower middle order and a few overs from the top 6. Last season, the Punjab Kings did not have much experience and power after Pooran and struggled to finish off games, an issue they could solve to a large extent if they slot in Henriques in their playing XI.
Moises Henriques should come in place of Jordan on pitches that offer pace and bounce, as Jhye Richardson could be a good option on such pitches. Also, Henriques would be handy with the ball on such tracks. An extra Indian pacer, either Ishan Porel or Darshan Nalkande, could be used in the XI if the Punjab Kings employ this overseas combination.
Probable Playing XI:
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Shahrukh Khan, Jhye Richardson, Ravi Bishnoi, M Ashwin, Ishan Porel, Mohammed Shami.
#3 Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, Chris Jordan
The Punjab Kings made an interesting pick in the IPL mini-auctions this year, that of Fabian Allen.
The Caribbean youngster is highly rated but has not got such game time in the IPL, having spent some time with SRH in the past. However, this is the season when he could finally get a proper run in the IPL.
The Punjab Kings will play a fair number of games on the slow decks this season, and that is where Allen could prove to be useful. The left-arm orthodox spinner is a fierce hitter of the ball too and has experience playing as a finisher.
With Allen in their XI, the Punjab Kings would have some power hitting at the back end of their innings as well as a few overs of spin when the pitch offers some turn. Being a left-arm orthodox spinner, Allen would also bring in some much-needed variety in the team's spin attack.
On pitches where Allen could be played, that is on relatively slower tracks, Chris Jordan could be the ideal choice ahead of Richardson. That's because the English pacer is renowned for thriving on slow pitches because of his variations.
Probable Playing XI:
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Fabian Allen, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, M Ashwin, Mohammed Shami.