Rebranded and revamped, the Punjab Kings (PBKS) come into the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with high expectations.
KL Rahul's side fell short of the playoffs last year after a nightmare start to their season, but they showed what they're capable of by going on a winning run towards the end of the league phase.
With a number of new players on their roster, PBKS will look to make their first-ever IPL final under the leadership of their 28-year-old captain.
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
Among the above squad, KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabhsimran Singh, Utkarsh Singh and Mayank Agarwal are capable of opening the batting.
In this article, we predict PBKS' opening combination for IPL 2021.
What did PBKS do in IPL 2020?
The Rahul-Agarwal pairing was successful, and it continued until the latter sustained an injury in PBKS' tenth game of the league phase. The following three encounters saw Mandeep Singh walk out to bat alongside Rahul, before Agarwal returned for the final group-stage match against the Chennai Super Kings.
Even when Gayle made his way into the side around halfway through the season, he was slotted in at an unfamiliar No. 3 role. The big West Indian was good for PBKS at the position, but it could be argued that he would've been more effective had he been allowed to open the innings.
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal likely to open the batting for PBKS in IPL 2021
Although Gayle is better utilised at the top of the order, PBKS should continue with KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal in IPL 2021.
Both batsmen have scored a mountain of runs at the top of the order - while Rahul finished last year's IPL as the Orange Cap winner, Agarwal would've challenged his captain for the accolade had he not gotten injured.
Gayle is a dangerous presence at No. 3 with his ability to take the spinners on in the middle overs, although he isn't sprightly between the wickets anymore.
Mandeep Singh proved himself capable of opening the batting with a wonderful fifty against the Kolkata Knight Riders, and he could be a viable alternative if needed.
Utkarsh Singh and Prabhsimran Singh have opened the batting for their respective state sides in the recent past, but they are unlikely to make the PBKS XI in IPL 2021.
Rahul and Agarwal will look to continue from where they left off in IPL 2020.