Formerly known as Kings XI Punjab (now called the Punjab Kings), the Ness Wadia-owned franchise did much better last season than their position reflected on the points table. They were alive for the playoffs spot until the very last game but will rue all the games that they lost from comfortable winning positions. Will the change in name and logo bring success for the Punjab Kings?
They do look pretty good on paper, but should have definitely done better at the auction given the purse they had. Punjab Kings released the misfiring Maxwell and below par Neesham and Cottrell along with a few others. However, they failed to get top quality all rounders to replace the ones released in the auction. That is the area they look the weakest in and if they do not manage their resources properly they could be found wanting.
Punjab Kings have a solid top-order
Their biggest positive is the return to form of their skipper KL Rahul. A lot would depend on his performance this year. Their top order is one of the best in the league with Rahul, Gayle, Mayank and Pooran capable of tearing apart any bowling lineup. Mandeep, Sarfaraz and Hooda will have the responsibility of supporting these big guns. They have roped in Shahrukh Khan, who has the ability to hit the ball hard, and the Kings will be hoping that he can provide the finishing touches they lacked last season.
Who will make the XI as bowlers for the Punjab Kings?
In the bowling department, they spent big on Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith from Australia. Both had great Big Bash League seasons with Jhye finishing as the highest wicket taker. But the fact that neither of them have played any IPL cricket means they would be slightly inexperienced in terms of bowling in these conditions.
Shami will spearhead the attack with Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin being the spin options on the back of a productive IPL 2020. Indian pacers like Ishan Porel and Arshdeep Singh could come in handy but their inexperience could hurt them. They retained Chris Jordan despite him having a mixed season last year.
No established all-rounders for Punjab Kings
The link between batting and bowling looks a bit weak on paper with very few options to play that all-rounder role. With only four overseas slots, it looks unlikely that Allen will start, which could leave them with a slightly longish tail. They will be hoping that their star studded batting lineup will cover this weakness. Last year, they had Maxwell who could roll his arm and get a couple of overs out of the way. With him released, the Kings would have to find someone who would play that role.
Overall, with an envious batting lineup, a very talented but inexperienced bowling attack and uncertainty with their all-round options, the Punjab Kings could have a hit or miss season. They will have to play their cards well to get the most out of the players at their disposal. With a smart tactician in Anil Kumble as their coach, expect them to put up a fight this season.