Agarwal’s team has a lot of power-hitting skill, but they won’t have Bairstow in the lineup for the season opener.
a broad overview
For the most part, IPL clubs enter the auction to reclaim the players they’ve been forced to release. It’s also entertaining to watch because their competitors are continuously raising the price. The Punjab Kings, on the other hand, took a different approach.
They kept two, purchased back five, and told 17 that #okbai was OK. Then, with cash in hand, they formed a completely new team, which is brimming with power-hitting skills. Their former captain confessed frankly that he couldn’t play the way he wanted because he was afraid of what would happen if he got hurt. Mayank Agarwal, on the other hand, will be unconcerned.
The first team to face the challenge of containing a line-up that includes Shikhar Dhawan at the top, Liam Livingstone in the middle, and Odean Smith at the finish will be Royal Challengers Bangalore.
In the media
Faf du Plessis is the man in charge of the Royal Challengers’ transition, and he can breathe a little easier for the time being because Jonny Bairstow and Kagiso Rabada will be absent due to national responsibilities on Sunday.
That isn’t to say there aren’t other problems. Glenn Maxwell, one of RCB’s finest performers in 2021, will miss the first two games, while Josh Hazlewood, who won the title with Chennai Super Kings only a few months ago, will arrive late following a successful tour of Pakistan.
XIs Most Likely
Faf du Plessis (captain), Anuj Rawat, Virat Kohli, Sherfane Rutherford, Mahipal Lomror, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Shahbaz Ahmed/Karn Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, David Willey
Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal (captain), Liam Livingstone, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shahrukh Khan, Punjab Kings: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Mayank Agarwal (captain), 3 Liam Livingstone, 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Shahrukh Khan Sandeep Sharma, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Rahul Chahar, 6 Prabhsimran Singh (wk), 7 Odean Smith, 8 Nathan Ellis/Harpreet Brar, 9 Sandeep Sharma, 10 Arshdeep Singh
David Willey is a powerplay expert. His record – 81 wickets in 139 innings – suggests he almost guarantees you an early wicket. And with Hazlewood out, he could be the perfect new-ball bowler for RCB. Plus, given the DY Patil stadium actually assists pace bowling, there’s even a chance that the England left-armer might do something that’s been impossible lately – swing the white cricket ball.
- A lot of teams may resort to taking the pace off to contain the Royal Challengers line-up. Among 20-plus players to have scored 100-plus runs against spin last season, Kohli had the lowest strike-rate (100 from 10 innings) and du Plessis had the third-lowest (108.08 in 12 innings). Dinesh Karthik’s average of 20 against spin was the fourth lowest for a batter in IPL 2021 (min 10 innings). Punjab will be eager to exploit this weakness, especially since they won’t have to worry about Maxwell throwing a spanner into the works.
Numbers that matter
- To date, the DY Patil Stadium has hosted 17 IPL games (none in the last two years though). The chasing side has won ten of them, and you’ll see why when you see the average first-innings score: 147.
- For only the fourth time in his career, Agarwal will skipper a senior cricket squad. While a dearth of experience can be difficult to overcome, the fact that the 31-year-old now knows his game inside and out must assist. Agarwal has been better at timing his innings and is a real threat in the middle overs (7-16) with a 158.68 strike rate. Only four other players with at least 50 runs since IPL 2019 have performed better.
- Punjab is one of du Plessis’ favorite opponents. His average of 61 and the number of fifties he has (7 versus KKR and 42 vs RCB) are both significantly greater than his records against any other IPL team (42 vs KKR and 3 vs RCB).