Just a few months before IPL 2021, the Mohali-based franchise Kings XI Punjab rebranded themselves as the Punjab Kings. The team retained its star players and support staff but changed its name, logo, and jersey before the 14th IPL season.
Punjab is not the first team to have rebranded themselves in the IPL. Two years ago, the Delhi Daredevils transformed into the Delhi Capitals, while even Royal Challengers Bangalore introduced a new logo ahead of IPL 2020. The rebranding had a positive impact, as Delhi qualified for the playoffs in 2019 and 2020, whereas RCB made it to the Top 4 last year for the first time since 2016.
The Punjab Kings have not finished in the Top 4 in the last six editions of the IPL. Their previous appearance in the playoffs came during the 2014 season, when they finished in the runner-up position.
The KL Rahul-led outfit will be keen to end their title drought in the IPL. Despite being a part of the IPL since 2008, Punjab has never won a championship. However, this year, the possibility of their title win is higher than ever.
Here's a look at three reasons why the Punjab Kings will start as the favorites to win the IPL 2021.
3. Tried and tested uncapped players
The Punjab Kings have a fantastic group of uncapped cricketers for the IPL 2021 season. They have IPL veteran Deepak Hooda and highly-experienced domestic star Jalaj Saxena in their all-rounders' section.
Ravi Bishnoi and Arshdeep Singh were superb for the Mohali-based franchise in the previous IPL season. These uncapped talents can provide top-quality support to international stars. Since uncapped players have often proven to be difference-makers in the IPL, the Punjab Kings could form a title-winning combination this year.
2. Multiple wicket-taking options in the pace attack
Mohammed Shami will have enough support in the Punjab Kings bowling attack this season.
The Indian pacer will have the backing of Australia's rising stars - Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson. Both players were phenomenal in the Big Bash League.
England all-rounder Chris Jordan regularly chips in with wickets in white-ball cricket. Simultaneously, uncapped pacer Ishan Porel is coming off a fantastic Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign. He picked up 13 wickets in five matches for the Bengal cricket team.
Wickets at regular intervals will ensure that the opposition does not gain momentum. If the fast bowlers fire in unison, Punjab could well take the trophy home this year.
1. PBKS have a stellar batting lineup for IPL 2021
The Punjab Kings already have a destructive quartet of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran in their batting unit. Ahead of IPL 2021, the Kings roped in the world no. 1 T20I batsman Dawid Malan to bolster their lineup.
It will be interesting to see which players make the cut for the Punjab Kings playing XI because they also have Moises Henriques and Fabian Allen in their squad. The Kings could destroy any bowling lineup in the competition with this group of batsmen.
The likes of Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan and Deepak Hooda will have the onus of backing the international stars well. Since Punjab will play most of their league games on batting-friendly wickets in Mumbai and Bengaluru, it will be challenging for opposition bowlers to keep a check on the run flow.