Punjab Kings come into the 2021 season with a new name as well as a fresh-looking squad. The franchise retained only 16 players from last season and let go off 9 players. They entered the auction with the highest purse and utilized the money pretty efficiently. Preity Zinta’s team bought 9 exciting talents ahead of the upcoming edition of the tournament.
The new acquisitions included few expensive signings like Jhye Richardson (INR 14 crores), Riley Meredith (INR 8 crores) and Shahrukh Khan (INR 5.25 crores) and Moises Henriques (INR 4.2 crores). Apart from these, the franchise also got a bargain as they got the No.1 ranked T20I batsman in the world, Dawid Malan for INR 1.5 crores. Punjab Kings also bought players like Jalaj Saxena (INR 30 lakhs), Utkarsh Singh (INR 20 lakhs), Fabian Allen (INR 75 lakhs) and Saurabh Kumar (INR 20 lakhs).
After narrowly missing out on a spot in playoffs last year, KL Rahul’s side would definitely be hoping to do well in 2021. With a new name, the franchise would also wish for a change in fortunes as they aim to win their maiden IPL title this year.
1. KL Rahul (c/wk)
The skipper of Punjab Kings led from the front last season, notching up 670 runs in 14 matches. KL was a vital cog for the franchise’s batting line-up but was often left with too much to do. With more depth in their batting order this season, the 28-year-old would be able to play much more freely at top of the order. With him also eyeing a spot in India’s side for the T20 World Cup later this year, KL can be expected to be at his absolute best in IPL 2021.
2. Mayank Agarwal
The Karnataka batsman was one of the finds for Punjab Kings last year. Mayank Agarwal scored 424 runs for the franchise last season at an impressive strike-rate of 156.45. The right-handed batsman subsequently made his limited-overs debut for India later in Australia but has been struggling with form since then. The 30-year-old will come out all guns blazing as he aims to return to form in style in the upcoming edition of IPL.
3. Chris Gayle
The No. 3 spot will be a position where Punjab Kings might rotate Dawid Malan and Chris Gayle. The Jamaican is certainly one of the most explosive cricketers in IPL. He scored 288 runs in 7 matches last season and played a crucial role in turnaround of the franchise’s campaign. While he would be a preferred choice but his fitness would be a major concern for Punjab Kings. In that case, Malan would fit in perfectly in his place.
4. Nicholas Pooran
The West Indies cricketer is going to be the X-Factor player for Punjab Kings in 2021. Pooran scored 353 runs in IPL 2020 at a whopping strike rate of 169.71. The left-hander has been playing in various T20 leagues all over the world and has emerged as a really explosive cricketer. Pooran is going to be the most important player in the middle-order for Punjab Kings and will have to produce more consistent performances for them in the upcoming season.
5. Moises Henriques
The Aussie all-rounder is a remarkable addition to provide the required balance to the franchise. Punjab Kings secured the services of Henriques for INR 4.2 crores and he could prove to be the missing piece in their side. The 34-year-old has already played 57 games in IPL, with 969 runs and 38 wickets to his name.
6. Mandeep Singh
The Punjab cricketer is a seasoned IPL campaigner and has played 104 matches in his career. Mandeep Singh played a few vital knocks for the franchise in IPL 2020 and is one of the most versatile players in the side. Whether its opening the innings or playing the role of a finisher, Mandeep provides the required balance to Punjab Kings.
7. Shahrukh Khan
The Tamil Nadu cricketer is one of the most exciting additions to the franchise ahead of IPL 2021. Shahrukh Khan was bought by Punjab Kings for INR 5.25 crores as they needed an explosive finisher in the lower-order. The 25-year-old has 293 runs in 31 T20 matches at a strike rate of 131.4. With an ability to smash big hits, he can also roll his arms for a few overs making him the perfect player at No. 7.
8. Jhye Richardson
The Aussie speedster was bought for INR 14 crores during the IPL Auction. Richardson was one of the most impressive bowlers in BBL 10 as he took 29 wickets in 17 matches. Punjab Kings had a really disappointing bowling performance last season and Jhye could be the player to solve their problems in the upcoming season of the tournament.
9. Mohammed Shami
The Indian pacer had a fantastic season last year as he was bowling at his absolute best. Shami took 20 wickets in 14 matches and was impressive in powerplay as well as death overs. With someone like Jhye supporting him from the other end, the duo would certainly make up for a lethal bowling pair.
10. Ravi Bishnoi
Punjab Kings will be playing most of their matches in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad where there won’t be too much assistance for spinners. While there is an option to play both Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi, Punjab Kings will opt for latter if there is a choice. Bishnoi took 12 wickets in 14 matches at an economy rate of 7.37 and was one of the emerging players of the tournament.
11. Arshdeep Singh
The left-arm bowler certainly had a breakthrough season with Punjab Kings in 2020. Arshdeep Singh took 9 wickets in 8 matches and looked really impressive for the franchise. The 22-year-old provides a different angle while bowling and can produce scintillating yorkers in the death overs, making him a valuable asset for his side. Arshdeep is going to be the player to watch out for in IPL 2021.