Punjab Kings' first match of the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 is around the corner and the team’s management must quickly put together the pieces for their strongest XI. Team Head Coach Anil Kumble and first-time captain Mayank Agarwal have their task cut out ahead of the season, with PBKS taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opener on March 27th.
With 25 players who have massive potential, it is a happy headache for the PBKS management to figure out whom to feature in their playing XI. Ahead of the first game, we try to decode what might be going on in the heads of our think-tank.
Tussle at the top
Captain Mayank Agarwal has opened for the team before and will likely continue to do so ahead. He, however, will have a new partner with him. This role will most likely be helmed by Shikhar Dhawan, whose consistency will add prowess to the team’s top order. Prabhsimran Singh is also a top-order batter who will be in the selectors’ minds to keep wickets and provide firepower until the big ticket buy from England arrives.
The experienced Jonny Bairstow, is also a strong contender for featuring at the top when he comes in but whether Mayank bats him at 3 or comes down himself at that position needs to be seen. Post that can come the big hitting batter from England, Liam Livingstone, who has had a great 2021. New recruits Writtick Chatterjee and Atharva Taide could find a place here if the management wants to spring a surprise on the opposition.
The mix in the middle
While Punjab Kings managed to buy back star batter Shahrukh Khan, they have also bolstered the middle order with some new faces. India’s U19 World Cup star Raj Angad Bawa is a good choice for a spot in the middle order. Explosive Jamaican all-rounder Odean Smith, who packed a powerful punch in the Abu Dhabi T10 League earlier, can also be a gamechanger.
Rishi Dhawan and Benny Howell can also make useful contributions in the middle order. Jitesh Sharma, who was in stellar form in the most recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy season, finishing with most sixes across the tournament, can also be a responsible middle order player and a finisher. Sri Lankan player Bhanuka Rajapaksa also has the potential to strengthen the middle order.
Winning it with their spin
Rahul Chahar, the enthusiastic leggie, was the frontline spinner for his former franchise with immense success, and is certain to feature in the playing XI. Liam Livingstone is the joker in the pack with his ability to bowl off-spin or leg-spin as required, whether the team needs him to contain the runs or attack for wickets. Ansh Patel and Harpreet Brar, two left-arm orthodox bowlers, are the other spin options available for the team of whom the experienced Brar is the more certain starter.
Puzzle of the pace power
This department is brimming with talent for the Punjab Kings. While Protea Pacer Kagiso Rabada is a force to reckon with, he is likely to partner Sandeep Sharma at the start of innings while Arshdeep Singh comes in to bowl with him at the death. Arshdeep and Baltej Singh have both had a great domestic outing just recently but the XI can only probably accommodate one of them as Odean Smith is likely to be the pacer bowling in the middle overs.
Nathan Ellis, who will be back in the Punjab colours this season, will also be eyeing a spot in the Playing XI, but so will Ishan Porel and Vaibhav Arora. Prerak Mankad is also an option to think about for the selectors this season.
|OPTION 1||OPTION 2||
|Mayank Agarwal (c)||Mayank Agarwal (c)||Mayank Agarwal (c)|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Prabhsimran Singh (wk)||Shikhar Dhawan|
|Liam Livingstone||Atharva Taide||Jonny Bairstow (wk)|
|Jonny Bairstow (wk)||Liam Livingstone||Writtick Chatterjee|
|Shahrukh Khan||Rishi Dhawan||Bhanuka Rajapaksa|
|Raj Bawa||Odean Smith||Shahrukh Khan|
|Odean Smith||Raj Bawa||Jitesh Sharma|
|Harpreet Brar||Harpreet Brar||Arshdeep Singh|
|Kagiso Rabada||Arshdeep Singh||Baltej Singh|
|Rahul Chahar||Kagiso Rabada||Vaibhav Arora|
|Sandeep Sharma||Ishan Porel||Ansh Patel|
NOTE: The aforementioned line-ups are an educated guess at best, and the final decision rests with the captain and the team management depending on various external factors.
Tell us your guesses about the Punjab Kings’ playing XI for IPL 2022. What would your team look like? Let us know in the comments below.