With the resumption of the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League almost upon us, the points table doesn't make for ideal reading for a Punjab Kings fan. KL Rahul’s side are currently sixth on the points table, and have their work cut out going forward if they are to finish amongst the playoffs positions.
Punjab Kings need to win five of their remaining six games in the competition to be assured of a spot beyond the league stages. The task at hand may be intimidating, but the 2014 finalists could still pack a punch given their wealth of experience and previous track record in the UAE.
Here are five reasons why Punjab Kings can still turn things around in the UAE leg of the 2021 IPL.
Punjab Kings have roped in three new players in Adil Rashid, Nathan Ellis and Aiden Markram, with Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith and Dawid Malan opting out of the competition. The team management have been shrewd with their replacements, getting in some of the finest talents available in the shortest format of the game.
Nathan Ellis recently picked up a hat-trick on his T20I debut for Australia, and has also earned himself a place in the T20I squad for the World Cup as a reserve player. Ellis has gained a reputation as an efficient death bowler in the Big Bash League and would be eager to show his prowess in the IPL as well.
Adil Rashid was the joint highest wicket-taker in The Hundred, picking up 12 wickets in seven games for the Northern Superchargers. He is also England’s leading wicket-taking spinner in T20 Internationals, and would be looking to make a mark in the IPL with the T20 World Cup shortly after. Aiden Markram also has performed admirably for South Africa in white ball cricket, and could be a valuable addition in that middle-order for Punjab Kings.
Track Record in UAE
Punjab Kings have won six of their last eight IPL games played in the UAE. KL Rahul’s side almost made it to the playoffs last season with that late fightback. The franchise won all their five games in the 2014 season as well when they played in the UAE. Overall, Punjab Kings have a good record in UAE and they would hope that last season’s experience would come in handy when they take the field against Rajasthan Royals next Tuesday.
Spin friendly wickets
Punjab Kings have seven recognised spinners in their roster, and those players would be licking their lips at the prospect of getting some purchase on the spin friendly tracks of UAE. Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin formed a great camaraderie last season, keeping things economical in those middle overs. This year, they also have the experience of Adil Rashid which could be a big asset.
Apart from those leggies, Punjab Kings also have Jalaj Saxena and Saurabh Kumar to provide some more variety to their bowling. Spin all-rounders Fabian Allen and Harpreet Brar could also be big assets in the UAE.
Players in form
The IPL resumption comes at an ideal time for the Punjab Kings players, as captain KL Rahul and talismanic pacer Mohammed Shami are coming off the back of a splendid Test tour of England. West Indians Chris Gayle and Fabian Allen will be joining the team after winning the 2021 CPL with the St.Kitts & Nevis Patriots, and that silverware would motivate them further to perform well in the IPL.
View this post on Instagram
Domestic players Shahrukh Khan and Murugan Ashwin also had fairly successful TNPL (Tamil Nadu Premier League) seasons. New recruits Adil Rashid and Nathan Ellis also did well for their respective countries in the recent International games, and would be full of confidence when the IPL resumes.
Dejavu for Anil Kumble
Punjab Kings fans can take heart from the fact that their Head Coach Anil Kumble has been in similar positions in the past, and managed to get his side out of that rut. Back in 2014, Kumble was the mentor of Mumbai Indians and the franchise lost five of their opening seven games, but managed to turn things around in the second half of the competition to make it to the semifinals. He was in a similar situation as a player as well, where his Royal Challengers Bangalore side had just one win from the first five games, but managed to make it to the finals after winning their final four league games.
The former Indian captain has proved his mettle in the past, and with a stellar support cast of Andy Flower, Jonty Rhodes and Wasim Jaffer in the management, Punjab Kings would still keep their hopes high for the remainder of the 2021 IPL.