IPL 2023: Another gloomy season for Punjab Kings. Punjab Kings finished at number 8 in Points table with 6 wins from 14 games. Punjab haven't qualified for playoffs since 2015 edition of IPL.
Another IPL season is set to end and once again the Punjab Kings (PBKS) are going home empty handed. This has been the case for the previous 15 IPLs and the 16th one has been no different.
The PBKS led by Shikhar Dhawan finished the season at the 8th spot in the points table with only 6 wins throughout their campaign. Though they didn’t get the desired result in IPL 2023, PBKS did have positives to be happy about going into the next season.
But before dwelling into that, let us see how they fared this season. We will take a look at their team performance as a whole starting from the upper order.
Absence of Jonny Bairstow hurt Punjab Kings in the upper order
England keeper batter Jonny Bairstow was ruled out of the IPL due to injury and this left a great void at the top of the order. As a result, PBKS didn’t have an experienced and impactful opener to partner Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order.
They tried the likes of Matthew Short who was the player of the tournament in the recently concluded Big Bash League, and then Sri Lankan batter Bhanuka Rajapakshe who himself didn’t feature in the XI for the bulk of the season owing to injury. And when they did feature in the XI, their returns weren’t that great. While the former scored 117 runs in 6 innings, Bhanuka featured in only 4 games making 71 runs.
As a result, they had to try out Prabhsimran Singh, the youngster from Punjab and immediately it had a great impact on the side. The opener scored a superlative century against the Delhi Capitals and couple of other useful knocks to cap off the season with 358 runs at an impressive strike rate of over 150. He was one of the major shining lights in an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Punjab Kings.
Apart from them, the man who was expected to score bulk of the runs, Shikhar Dhawan managed to score 373 runs in 11 innings with three 50-plus scores to his name. But the problem was all his half-centuries came before he sustained an injury and had to miss three of the PBKS’s league games. The inconsistent returns dented PBKS greatly as their major concern throughout the tournament was that they lost wickets in the powerplay and Shikhar’s own indifferent season didn’t help the cause.
Middle order wasn’t consistent either
As always IPL is known to churn out new talents and for PBKS it was Atharva Taide who seems to be a great prospect for the future. The 23-year-old, like Prabhsimran, impressed in the middle order with his fearless stroke play and can play a huge role in the years to come. He hit two half-centuries in just 6 innings at a strike rate of close to 145.
Liam Livingstone did score 2 big fifty-plus scores but apart from that, the swashbuckling batter wasn’t at his usual best in the 9 innings he played this season. Sam Curran, the highest paid IPL player ever had an ordinary season both with bat and ball taking 10 wickets and scoring 276 runs.
Likewise, Sikander Raza did show some flashes of brilliance but his season can only be termed as decent. It is because of the fact that PBKS made a lot of chopping and changing when it came to the middle order.
Like Taide, Jitesh Sharma also impressed in the middle order. He started out as a finisher earlier in the season, the keeper batter took up a role at No.4 for the team. Jitesh ended up as one of their best batters, scoring 309 runs and it came at a strike rate of 156 which is simply outstanding. Shahrukh Khan did what he was asked for but still there is room for improvement.
Bowlers failed to step up
The trio of Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and Rahul Chahar didn’t collectively have a great outing in the season as they would have hoped for.
Arshdeep did pick 17 wickets but his economy rate (9.69) was on the higher side. Rabada played only 6 matches and had disappointing returns taking 7 wickets at 33.14 apiece and was really expensive as was Rahul Chahar who picked just 8 wickets in 14 games. Harpreet didn’t do that great either as PBKS bowling never clicked this season.
The inconsistencies in both departments of the game led to PBKS’ downfall in IPL 2023 but as mentioned they did have some bright spots.
The Indian talents are aplenty in the form of Prabhsimran Singh, Atharva Taide, Jitesh Sharma and Shahrukh Khan showing sparks throughout the season. They have invested heavily in the future and its time that they come good. These are a great bunch of players to take the team forward in the coming season.
However, the major challenge for them has been reaching the playoffs stage. Since 2014 where they reached final of the IPL, PBKS haven’t reached the last 4 even once. This is a cause of concern and the changes of personnel hasn’t helped them either.
Overall, it was yet another season to forget for the Punjab franchise but there is great scope for improvement.