Following the heartbreak on Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium, the action shifts to Sharjah for the Punjab Kings bandwagon. The Sharjah Cricket Stadium will host KL Rahul’s side on Saturday when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The venue change could just be a lucky omen for the Punjab Kings to kick-start their revival once again in the competition as they try to make a late dash for the playoffs. Here are three reasons why Sharjah could be the ideal stadium for the Kings.
Last season, Punjab Kings won two of their three matches played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. In the 2014 season when the IPL was also played in the UAE, Punjab Kings won both their games at this venue. Overall, the team has lost just once in five games at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, with that loss coming in the thrilling encounter against Rajasthan Royals last season.
The iconic venue was also where PBKS kick-started their late comeback last season, with that win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore. KL Rahul’s side would hope for a similar story to repeat itself in 2021 too, albeit against different opposition.
With some of the cleanest hitters of a cricket ball like Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran and Shahrukh Khan in their roster, the shortish boundaries at Sharjah would feel like music to the ears of the Punjab Kings management. Chris Gayle smashed 10 sixes in two innings at this venue last season, and given a chance would be raring to go and get another big score under his name come Saturday.
At other venues, the fear of the boundary rope would sometimes curtail the free scoring nature of the likes of Rahul or Mayank Agarwal, but the Sharjah Stadium would encourage them to play their shots sans fear and get a big score for the team.
Improved death bowling
Death bowling had been a concern for Punjab Kings for most of the 2020 season, but one positive that they could take from their last game was their much improved death bowling. Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh collectively conceded just 21 runs in four overs in the previous game, while picking up six wickets as well.
Their ability to nail their stock delivery more often than not, coupled with the gift of being calm under pressure makes the PBKS management breathe slightly easier. Despite the short boundaries in Sharjah, the bowlers will be confident of nailing their yorkers and slower ones to perfection to significantly curtail the scoring areas for the opposition.
Punjab Kings still have their fate in their own hands, and if they can win five out of five from this position, they will qualify for the playoffs. Last season, the team began a resurgence at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and KL Rahul and co. would hope that the venue once again brings good luck with it for the franchise.