The Punjab Kings (PBKS) may have a different name and a number of new players, but the core of the team remains the same coming into the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
With IPL 2020 Orange Cap winner KL Rahul leading the team and a number of veterans like Chris Gayle and Mohammed Shami in the mix, PBKS will aim to reach their first-ever final this year.
To beef up the overseas department, PBKS recruited Fabian Allen, Moises Henriques, Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson and Dawid Malan in the 2021 IPL auction.
PBKS' squad for IPL 2021: KL Rahul, Arshdeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Darshan Nalkande, Harpreet Brar, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Mohd. Shami, M Ashwin, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Ishan Porel, Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan, Prabhsimran Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Fabian Allen, Moises Henriques, Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson, Dawid Malan
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In this article, we predict the four overseas players in PBKS' XI for IPL 2021.
Nicholas Pooran, Jhye Richardson guaranteed to be part of PBKS' playing XI in IPL 2021
The most expensive buy by PBKS in the history of the IPL auction at INR 14 crores, Jhye Richardson is guaranteed to be part of the XI this year. The Aussie quick finished the Big Bash League as the leading wicket-taker, and can contribute a few handy runs with the bat as well.
Richardson will provide Shami, who waged a lone battle in IPL 2020, some support in the pace department. Historically, fast bowlers who've excelled in the Big Bash haven't been able to translate those performances to IPL success. It remains to be seen if Richardson manages to do so.
Nicholas Pooran batted at No. 4 for the most part of IPL 2020, and he should occupy the same slot this year as well. The exciting West Indian is one of the most destructive players in the world on his day, and led the Northern Warriors admirably well in the 2021 Abu Dhabi T10.
Pooran will aim to notch up a solid 450-run season in IPL 2021.
Chris Gayle, Moises Henriques, Dawid Malan, Chris Jordan, Riley Meredith the candidates for the remaining slots
Among the overseas contingent, left-arm spinning all-rounder Fabian Allen is perhaps the only player who won't get a game in IPL 2021 due to the presence of two leg-spinners in Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi.
All the others have cases to be made for their inclusion.
Dawid Malan is the #1-ranked T20I batsman in the world, but he might be kept out of the team by Chris Gayle. Gayle turned the fortunes of the team around after coming into the XI in IPL 2020, and his impact is far more than just runs or sixes.
PBKS might be forced to play Moises Henriques due to his all-round abilities. Apart from Shami and Richardson, Arshdeep Singh and Ishan Porel are the only two Indian pacers in the side. The Aussie all-rounder would add great balance to the side, and could serve as the finisher batting at No. 6 or No. 7.
If PBKS choose to strengthen their bowling department, and they can afford to do so because of their world-class top order, either Riley Meredith or Chris Jordan could play instead of Henriques. Meredith was signed for INR 8 crores in the IPL 2021 auction, while Jordan excelled for PBKS in the latter half of the last campaign.
But Henriques is the most likely choice for PBKS. He is the only all-rounder in the squad capable of contributing regularly with both bat and ball.
VERDICT: Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Jhye Richardson