As the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 mega-auction got completed on Sunday, all 10 teams get their final shape now. Punjab Kings (PBKS) who finished in the lower half of the points table in the previous season of IPL have revamped their team completely after they retained only two players before the auction. Also, they bought Shahrukh Khan who was with them earlier, again in the auction for a very high price of INR 9 crores.
Punjab Kings Squad
Mayank Agarwal (retained), Shikhar Dhawan, Prerak Mankad, Banka Rajapaksa, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Jonny Bairstow, Benny Howell, Baltej Singh, Ansh Patel, Liam Livingstone, Rishi Dhawan, Atharva Taide, Arshdeep Singh (retained), Writtick Chatterjee, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Bawa, Nathan Ellis, Vaibhav Arora, Ishan Porel, Harpreet Brar, Rahul Chahar, Kagiso Rabada
Let's have a look at the team balance of Punjab Kings.
Openers – Mayank Agarwal, Shikhar Dhawan, Jonny Bairstow (WK)
PBKS have a solid left-right opening pair in Shikhar Dhawan and Mayank Agarwal. Agarwal can play the role of aggressor in the powerplays overs whereas Dhawan will assist him before unleashing his hitting game in the later stages. Dhawan can also play the role of anchor throughout the innings to give stability to the batting line-up which he was doing quite successfully at Delhi Capitals (DC) in the last three seasons.
England wicketkeeper batter Jonny Bairstow can also open for Punjab if needed. He had a successful stint as an opener with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the last few IPL seasons.
Middle-order - Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Jonny Bairstow, Shahrukh Khan, Prerak Mankad Prabhsimran Singh (WK), Jitesh Sharma (WK)
Wicketkeeper batter Jonny Bairstow will likely start at the one down position for Punjab Kings as they have a formidable opening pair of Dhawan and Agarwal. Shahrukh Khan also books his slot at three down for Punjab as he is known for his fearless strokeplay. Rajapaksa can play at four for Punjab Kings, however, they can play any all-rounder at this position or an Indian batter like Prerak Mankad, Prabhsimran Singh or Jitesh Sharma to open up one overseas slot in the lower-order.
Prabhsimran Singh will be the second wicketkeeping option for Punjab after Bairstow. He has a remarkable T20 record with an average of 34.25 and a strike rate of 136.77.
All-rounders - Liam Livingstone, Rishi Dhawan, Atharva Taide, Benny Howell, Baltej Singh, Ansh Patel
Punjab Kings splurged their money on many quality all-rounders in this IPL auction. Popular England all-rounder Liam Livingstone can bat in the middle-order or lower middle-order. Punjab Kings bought Liam Livingstone for INR 11.5 crore in auction on Day 2.
Rishi Dhawan is also a quality all-around option for Punjab Kings. Also, they have a talented overseas all-rounder Benny Howell in their squad who is the second highest wicket-taker in The Hundred 2021. He bagged 11 wickets in 170 deliveries in the first season of Hundred.
Also, they can groom young Indian all-rounders Baltej Singh, Ansh Patel and Atharva Taide in the upcoming season of IPL.
Pacers - Kagiso Rabada, Nathan Ellis, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Ishan Porel, Raj Bawa
Punjab Kings broke their bank to buy Protea speedster Kagiso Rabada for INR 9.25 crores. Also, they have quality Indian pacers - Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel and Sandeep Sharma - in their contingent.
They also snapped up skillful overseas pacers - Nathan Ellis and Odean Smith. Also they have two young Indian pacers, Raj Bawa and Vaibhav Arora, in their squad, who can step up any time if the team needs them.
Arshdeep Singh is the lone left-arm pacer in the Punjab Kings crew.
Spinners - Rahul Chahar, Writtick Chatterjee, Harpreet Brar
As new franchise Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) picked star spinner of Punjab, Ravi Bishnoi, in the draft before the auction, Punjab went for leggie Rahul Chahar in IPL auction 2022. They bought him for INR 5.25 crores in the IPL 2022 mega-auction. Also, they regained left-arm spinner, Harpreet Singh, by battling hard with Gujrat Titans in the auction.
These two will be Punjab’s first-choice options in the playing eleven, whereas Bengal’s right-arm off-break spinner Writtick Chatterjee will be eager to grab any opportunity Punjab Kings give to him.
Overall, one could say Punjab had a good auction in the last two days. They lost the explosive opener, KL Rahul, after the last season but managed to buy Dhawan to compensate for it. Also, they acquired many all-around options, which will give flexibility to their side. Liam Livingstone can be a key player in the upcoming season due to his explosive batting.
The only drawback they have in their squad is their backup wicketkeeping options like Prabhsimran Singh and Jitesh Sharma, who may not fill the void if formidable batter Bairstow gets injured in the middle of the season.
IPL 2022 kicks off in India on March 27. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has indicated that the venues for the premier cricketing league could be Mumbai and Pune and the tournament will be held without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The detailed schedule of the tournament is yet to be announced.