Ahead of the Tata Indian Premier League 2022, the Punjab Kings have put together a team that has a wide range of batting options. The line-up is a healthy mix of experience, power-hitting, and match-winning ability.
The experience the batting order possesses is immense. With the introduction of Shikhar Dhawan, who has had great success as an opener with team India and his former IPL franchise, and Jonny Bairstow, one of England’s pivotal players, in good form recently, the Punjab Kings have upped the ante.
Furthermore, new skipper Mayank Agarwal will provide a calming familiar presence at the top with his extremely capable batting abilities. In his only match as a captain for Punjab Kings last season, he scored a fiery 99* (58), giving us a teaser of what we can expect this season.
While this will be the Sri Lankan batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s first experience of the IPL, his familiarity with the conditions, similar to Sri Lanka in terms of heat and humidity, can come handy for the team. Since 2020, the left-hander’s strike rate of 166 with a 26% boundary rate makes him a strong contender for a spot in the playing XI.
Prabhsimran Singh has consistently played in the top order for his domestic team and has produced good numbers. His addition will provide the team a strong alternative to not having the relatively experienced players in the teams. He has played 30 T20 games so far at an average of 34.25, a strike rate of 136.77 and a high score of 119*, which also shows his quick-hitting abilities.
The team also has Jitesh Sharma, who primarily batted at the top for years before finding immense success as a middle order batter in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, ending with the most sixes in the tournament. His addition can add flexibility to the team in terms of playing position. In the 54 T20 games he has played, Sharma has scored at an impressive strike rate of 141.83.
Then comes the invaluable Shahrukh Khan, a star in his own right, sculpted by the many incredible moments he gave Punjab Kings last year. In the 2021 season, he played 11 matches and scored at a strike rate of 134.21. And the man can hold his composure in tough moments, like he did with a last-ball six in the final to win the SMAT for his team this year. Bidding for the power-hitter in the auction earlier this year was a no-brainer, and his numbers speak for themselves as to why he is a complete and reliable finisher for the team.
In safe hands, behind the wicket too
This mix has also given the team three talented wicketkeepers to choose from - Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh and Jitesh Sharma.
Jonny Bairstow is not just a prolific run-maker from Yorkshire, but has also donned the gloves for England for over a decade now. His T20I experience will be extremely valuable, and his work behind the sticks at Hyderabad showed his ability to keep to high class spin. All-in-all, he is a great wicketkeeper-batter package, and can be expected to shoulder this responsibility as soon as he is available.
Both Jitesh Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh have been wicketkeepers for Vidarbha and Punjab respectively. Both players are a solid backup for Bairstow, who is arriving late, and either can be picked depending on whether a batter is needed up the order or somewhere in the middle.
All-in-all, the Punjab Kings have a batting order solid enough to keep the opposition under threat, even when the bigger names may not feature at any point during the season.
Tell us in the comments below which five batters would you pick for your team, and who will the wicketkeeper of your choice be!