IPL 2021: Best Predicted Playing XI of Punjab Kings (PBKS)

After letting go Glenn Maxwell and James Neesham, the Punjab Kings had a visible plan as they slotted in overseas all-rounders Shakib al Hasan, Moises Henriques, and Fabien Allen.

KL Rahul IPL 2021
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KL Rahul. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

Pratyay Tiwari
PRATYAY TIWARI

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Kings XI Punjab captain KL Rahul
Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

The Kings XI Punjab, as they were until last year, gave us some thorough entertainment. At the start of the tournament, they had truckloads of problems facing right in their eyes. Some controllable, some beyond their reach. They lost games from unbelievable situations.

In their second fixture of the season, they messed up a chase, needing a solitary run in three deliveries. Against Rajasthan Royals, they lost despite posting a target that was never chased in the IPL history. In another classical KXIP-esque loss, they faltered and fell two runs short in a chase they completely dominated against Kolkata Knight Riders. All they had was two points from seven fixtures. However, what followed was one of the most riveting comeback tales of all time.

Coming out of the grave, the Kings salvaged their dented pride and found themselves winning the kind of games they were losing. From the one-for-the-ages encounter (read: double Super Over) clash against Mumbai Indians to another Super Over heist against the Delhi Capitals, they scripted the most incredible redemption.

After unceasingly toppling one team after another, their prediction-defying, unrealistically dramatic streak of five wins was brought to a sudden halt and it was gut-wrenching that despite all the hard-work, KXIP failed in booking a top-four berth. However, with the largest purse in the mini-auction ahead of the upcoming season, the Punjab Kings were, on expected lines, the most active team and they have laid the foundation of a promising season through their picks.

They bolstered their bowling column by the Australian pace duo of Jhye Richardson (INR 14 Crore) and Riley Meredith (INR 8 Crore) and broke the bank to occupy South African all-rounder Chris Morris (INR 16.25 Crore, the most expensive IPL buy).

After letting go Glenn Maxwell and James Neesham, the Kings had a visible plan and they slotted in overseas all-rounders Shakib al Hasan (INR 1.5 Crore), Moises Henriques (INR 75 Lakhs), and Fabien Allen (INR 75 Lakhs), apart from investing in Indian all-rounders Jalaj Saxena (INR 30 Lakhs) and Saurabh Kumar (INR 20 Lakhs). While the jaw-dropping deals of Chris Morris and Jhye Richardson made the hustle, the Kings made a steal deal in Dawid Malan, the number T20I batsman, for INR 1.5 Crore and also roped in the young, uncapped sensation Shahrukh Khan for INR 5.5 Crore.

What would be an ideal XI for Punjab Kings in IPL 2021? Let’s take a look –

1. KL Rahul

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

The flamboyant Indian right-hander had set the IPL alight through his consistent performances last year. Right from the onset, KL Rahul had set the tone for the tournament with the bat and he made a matchless pair with Mayank Agarwal in the openers’ slot. Despite getting little or, at times, even no support from the members around him, skipper Rahul denied to budge against any odd and fought like a lone warrior on many occasions.

Even though his team had a tough time in the first phase of the tournament, Rahul’s bat spitted fire and barely took the foot off the accelerator. So convincingly dominating was his prowess in the tournament that he named the Orange Cap to himself despite his team not making it into the Playoffs. Rahul slammed a century and 5 half-centuries in 14 games, amassing a staggering 670 runs at an impressive average of 55.83.

He admitted about the harsh learnings in his maiden stint as a captain and undeniably displayed the caliber to lead. With plenty of fresh faces and some old ones in the mix, both the batsmen and captain in him would be itching to head into the new season with full force.

2. Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

An aggressive striker of the ball, Mayank Agarwal is a fearless force who has the power to decimate any bowler. In the last edition, he was effective enough with the bat to keep Chris Gayle out of the team. So much so that even when Gayle was finally given a spot, he was assigned to bat at number three, as the management did not want to meddle the opening combination.

A batsman par excellence, Mayank Agarwal has been able to impress through his exploits at the international level too. In the 2020 edition of the league, he fought neck-to-neck with his skipper KL Rahul, however, an injury led him to miss a couple of games, and he was left behind.

In 88 matches thus far, Agarwal has scored 1690 runs at a strike rate of 134.23. 424 runs at 38.54 with a century and a couple of half-centuries in the last edition has been his best performance in a single edition.

3. Dawid Malan

Dawid Malan
Dawid Malan. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Despite making his first-class debut at the tender age of 18 years, Dawid Malan did not find himself anywhere on the international scene until 2017. His story has been one of grit and determination and the 33-year-old has grabbed any opportunity that has come towards him.

Currently ranked as the number T20I batsman, Malan’s exploits in the shortest format have been impressive, to say the very least. In 19 T20Is, he has amassed 855 runs at an average of 53.44 and he strikes at 149.48. A century and 9 half-centuries in only 19 outings show why he is considered a consistent performer in the format.

With Chris Gayle not being on the right side of the age, Malan is certainly a useful addition in the franchise brimming with talent and aggression. Considering the value he adds to the squad, a price of INR 1.5 Crore at the auction was indeed a steal for the Punjab-based franchise.

4. Nicholas Pooran

Nicholas Pooran
Nicholas Pooran. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

A ruthless southpaw known for his merciless hitting, Nicholas Pooran has the power to clear any boundary with ease. The Caribbean star has sufficient experience in the franchise-based short-format leagues and he is a regular feature of the Caribbean Premier League.

In the last edition of the IPL, Pooran scored 353 runs from 14 games at an astonishing strike rate of 169.71. He ruled the six-hitting charts, smothering 25 sixes in the tournament. He is coming on the back of an eventful season in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, where ended only seven runs behind the highest tally of 248 runs, finishing the tournament with 241 runs, 2 catches, and a stumping in 9 fixtures.

Much like every league that he is part of, Pooran slammed more sixes than anyone else in the T10 League (26), and his hitting prowess was on a wide display against the Bangla Tigers, when he smoked 89 from just 27, hitting an incredible 12 sixes in his knock. Pooran is more than a capable wicketkeeper, who can easily play back up to KL Rahul whenever needed.

5. Deepak Hooda

Deepak Hooda
Deepak Hooda. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Deepak Hooda made his Indian Premier League debut with the Rajasthan Royals and impressed instantaneously as he scored 151 runs in 14 matches at a strike-rate of 158.94. Known for his big-hitting, Hooda plays the role of a finisher for the team and though consistency in performance has been an addressable issue for him, he has proven to be a handy belonging nevertheless.

A handy off-spinner who can get the team some breakthroughs, Hooda also adds value to the team’s bowling department and has plenty of potential with the ball too. The Punjab franchise has shown faith in his abilities by retaining him.

He is often used as a floater and even though he might not feature in every game of the tournament, an odd performance with the bat or ball is always in the sights when it comes to the Rohtak-born all-rounder. In the 2020 edition, he scored 101 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 142.25, and he would want to prove the faith shown by the franchise in him a correct decision, come the 14th edition of the league.

6. Shahrukh Khan 

Shahrukh Khan IPL 2021 Auction
Shahrukh Khan. (Photo By Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Named after the famous Bollywood celebrity and Kolkata Knight Riders’ owner, Shahrukh Khan left many pleasantly surprised in the auction. The Punjab franchise pocketed the swashbuckling middle-order batsman for a massive INR 5.25 Crore, in what was another dreamy tale of a youngster rising the ladder of IPL’s glamorous stage.

The 6-feet-6-inches aggressive right-hander has shown some serious skills in his short first-class career. His unbeaten 19-ball 40 in Tamil Nadu’s crunch victory in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was an example of controlling the nerves and taking the team across the line.

The 25-year-old is a capable right-hand off-break option and may well mark himself in the role of an all-rounder for the franchise. IPL has been the biggest platform for youngsters to showcase their skillsets and build a reliable future. Having invested heavily in a promising prospect, both the Punjab franchise and the nation would want the deserving talent to excel and make his name in his maiden IPL season.

7. Jhye Richardson 

Jhye Richardson
Jhye Richardson. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

A tear-away pacer who can swing the ball while consistently clocking speeds of 140-145 kph, Jhye Richardson has risen to fame quickly. With a wide repertoire in his art and multiple variations with the ball, Richardson is a kind that makes successful T20 specialists.

He is equally effective at the start of the innings as well as death, which provides his team to rotate and shuffle as per need, and even though a price tag of INR 14 Crore might not seem justified, the large auction purse of Punjab Kings meant that they could outbid others to afford him even at a high cost.

The expenses made to occupy his services might raise a few eyebrows, although it would not be a shock for those who witnessed his performance in the recently-concluded Big Bash league, where he picked 29 wickets at a spectacular average of 16.31.

8. Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan
Chris Jordan. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

A seasoned right-arm quick, Chris Jordan has been a T20 specialist, known for his dexterity at the death. Despite some excellent variations and expertise, Jordan has been guilty of lacking discipline in his bowling, and he was the receiving end during the last edition when he leaked 9.65 runs an over.

The Punjab franchise was the most expensive at the death and a lot of that was attributable to Jordan’s failure to execute his death bowling plans to perfection. The Barbadian ended with 9 wickets in as many games, although he was unable in contributing as many match-winning performances that the team would have expected from him.

Going into the 14th edition of the league, Jordan would certainly have twin targets in his mind: improving his career economy of 9.33, and in the absence of even a single a designated all-rounder, giving the team some support with the bat in the lower-order.

9. Mohammed Shami

Mohammad Shami
Mohammad Shami. (Photo Source: IPL/BCCI)

Mohammad Shami was one default retain choice for the Punjab-based franchise after being picked for a hefty sum of 4.8 Crores last year. A regular feature in India’s international setup, Shami has been a stellar performer in the Indian Premier League too.

With the skills of bowling at accurate lines, both towards the start of the innings and death overs, the only concern at times is his economy of 8.89 in the tournament. That said, he is a genuine wicket-taker and the last two seasons have yielded him 39 of his 60 career wickets.

In the 2019 edition, Shami bagged 19 wickets at 24.68 and a strike rate of 17.05, and he bettered the performance by accounting for 20 wickets from 14 games at 23.00 and a strike rate of 16.10 in the recent edition of the IPL. Alongside some able companions in Richardson, Chris Jordan, and Riley Meredith, the upcoming edition promises to be another good chance for the experienced pacer.

10. Arshdeep Singh 

Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab. (Photo: Surjeet Yadav/IANS)

The left-arm seamer from Punjab has been another revelation in the marquee league and proved the decision of retaining him in the team a wise one. After playing only 3 matches in the 2019 edition of the IPL, Arshdeep was brought into the scheme of things last year when Punjab was suffering a syndrome of leaking runs with both hands in the death.

Having shown his ability to use the crease, exploit speed variations to perfection, and cramp the batsmen for any room, during his successful stint with the Indian Under-19 team, he proved to be spot on in dealing the death overs, generating immediate results for the team and finding a spot in the playing eleven.

Resultantly, he was put to task alongside Chris Jordan for the death bowling duties and he finished the season with 9 wickets from 8 games at an average of 24.22. In a nascent IPL career, Arshdeep has only 12 wickets, although, with some experience of the league under his belt, he would want to make the most of the coming edition.

11. Ravi Bishnoi

Ravi Bishnoi
Ravi Bishnoi. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ravi Bishnoi grabbed eyeballs immediately after his sensational performance in the Under-19 World Cup, where he bagged 17 wickets from just six fixtures, to finish as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament.

His toil did not go in vain and he was booked for a fat pay cheque of INR 2 Crore by the Punjab Kings (then Kings XI Punjab). Bishnoi was quick to pounce on the opportunity and made fruitful use of time under the supervision of Indian spin wizard Anil Kumble. He was a part of the team in each of the matches and finished with 12 wickets from 14 games.

More than the generous amount of wickets he earned, it was his season economy of 7.37 that garnered praises from all corners, given that he is a leg-spinner. With only two more spinners – Murugan Ashwin and Harpreet Brar – in the spin contingent, Bishnoi will have an onus to perform with the same consistency as the last edition.