fbpx

IPL 2022: Punjab Kings SWOT Analysis

/
8 mins read
Punjab Kings SWOT 2022

With the biggest purse of the lot, the Punjab Kings were able to bring in Shikhar Dhawan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Kagiso Rabada. They have made street-smart acquisitions and have built a strong core of players capable of challenging for the title. 

Infamous for botching up auctions, the Punjab Kings have made some smart recruitments and built a strong core of players that, on paper, make them one of the favourites to win the title. Here’s the caveat, though: you never really know how good a team’s acquisitions are until they take to the field and compete with the others. 

The 2022 mega auction is probably an isolated case of the Punjab Kings building a great team from scratch. Over the years, they have been in the same situation at most auctions: needing a rebuild. While teams in and around them built their foundation on continuity, the Punjab Kings over the years—due to their chopping and changing mentality—rarely had a group of players year on year to build a squad around. 

Hence, when it was time to map out a pathway for the next three seasons, the Kings’ past experience came through and made their job easier when their captain made it all but clear that he wanted out, making way for a full-blown rebuild, while the other teams—the seven original ones—were forced to deal with a reluctant reset. 

The PBKS retained an established top-order batter in Mayank Agarwal for ₹14 crore and kept hold of the promising local talent Arshdeep Singh for ₹4 crore, giving themselves the biggest purse on the auction table. Ideally, they would have loved to retain Shahrukh Khan as well, but, being an uncapped player, he would have had to be signed up for ₹4 crore — a figure the Kings were reluctant to meet. However, just like everyday life, things usually don’t pan out the way we always want. Shahrukh Khan was one of the hottest properties on the auction table, and a bidding war ensued, making his price soar easily past the ₹4-crore mark. Eventually, the PBKS landed him for ₹9 crore, effectively 2.25 times the retention price. 

Despite those blips in the auction, however, the Kings have put together a great squad with a good blend of experience and youth. They have lots of positives, though some of the negatives from the past have carried over. They have flair, they have bonafide match-winners, and also just the right balance to make them one of the teams to watch out for during IPL 2022.

So without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the SWOT analysis of the Punjab Kings for IPL 2022. 

Punjab Kings Squad

Total squad strength: 25

Batters and
Wicket-keepers
All-roundersBowlers
Bhanuka Rajapaksa
Mayank Agarwal
Prerak Mankad
Shahrukh Khan
Shikhar Dhawan (c)
Jitesh Sharma (wk)
Jonny Bairstow (wk)
Prabsimran Singh (wk)
Ansh Patel
Atharva Taide
Benny Howell
Harpreet Brar
Liam Livingstone
Odean Smith
Raj Bawa
Rishi Dhawan
Writtick Chatterjee
Arshdeep Singh
Baltej Dhanda
Ishan Porel
Kagiso Rabada
Nathan Ellis
Sandeep Sharma
Rahul Chahar
Vaibhav Arora

Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan (c), Mayank Agarwal, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Liam Livingstone, Shahrukh Khan, Raj Bawa, Odean Smith, Harpreet Brar, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh.

STRENGTH

In the last two seasons, in KL Rahul, the PBKS had the best T20 batter in the country, though he played like someone who often didn’t believe that. The years 2018 and 2019 showed us a version of KL Rahul that got lost in his transition to the skipper’s role. Whether it was him simply doing a job that he was asked to do or whether he took it upon himself to become a conservative batter in the quest for solidarity over flamboyance, we might never know, but anybody who followed the Kings’ progress over the last two seasons saw the fireworks only when the season was nearly over. Thus, it makes one wonder: “What if…?” 

That criticism might always stick with him, though to be fair to him, Rahul never had a solid middle order under him for him to be able to play free and expansive cricket. Although he accumulated the most runs compared to any other batter over the last two IPL seasons, Rahul often saw his team crumble and succumb to situations perfectly in their control, losing more games from winning positions than the other way around. 

Now, with KL Rahul gone, the Kings have put together a top order that might struggle to score the same volume of runs as he did individually, but as a unit, their new top and middle orders are dripping with consistent performers and power-hitters. The top five of Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Shahrukh Khan will be the envy of every other IPL team. 

In Livingstone, the PBKS have a multi-dimensional cricketer who will give them some much-needed balance and flexibility, while Raj Angad Bawa is considered the next big exciting all-rounder coming through the ranks in Indian cricket. Moreover, in Arshdeep Singh, they have a bowler who can be the perfect foil to Kagiso Rabada. He is capable of executing well upfront and then finishing off the innings in the death overs. If he continues his growth and adds 5–10 km/h to his pace, he could become a great long-term asset for the Kings. 

WEAKNESS

While their batting unit looks fantastic, there is still some concern regarding the Kings’ bowling unit. In Kagiso Rabada, they arguably have the best fast bowler of his generation. He’s a world-class bowler, someone who can turn a match on its head in the space of just six balls. However, in recent times, his T20 form hasn’t been at par with his abilities and hasn’t inspired the same amount of dread as it did when he was taking wickets for fun. Nevertheless, despite not being at the peak of his powers, Rabada managed to take 15 wickets from as many games for the Delhi Capitals last year. 

Meanwhile, Arshdeep proved last season that he is capable of seeing out games in the death overs, though not as consistently as the PBKS would want him to. Make no mistake: Arshdeep is a great foil to Rabada, but at least one of them will have to be at their best consistently for the other to come good. While multi-dimensional cricketers are aplenty in the squad, death bowling could still become a cause for concern for a side known for struggling when it comes to closing out matches.

On a similar note, the PBKS spin department too looks short on options. The Kings were bold to rope in Rahul Chahar as the only frontline spin-bowling option and will be hoping dearly that he lives up to his potential and exhibits some of the performances that earned him his ICC T20 World Cup call-up last year. Harpreet Brar is another option, though an underrated one, given he is not a premier spin option by any stretch of the imagination. Thus, whether the PBKS undervalue him and jump to other alternatives, or whether he manages to cement his place as one of the main spin bowling threats, remains to be seen. 

OPPORTUNITY

While the Punjab Kings did fill their squad to the maximum limit of 25 players, there was more than enough money (₹3.45 crore) left for them to bring in one or two players with more experience. Perhaps they were too engrossed with their planning and lost the plot to an extent, leaving a few holes, something that otherwise could have been avoided. 

The Kings went for a few budget overseas options like Benny Howell and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, but, without meaning any disrespect, with almost ₹3.5 crore left to spare, they could have opted for at least one more match-winner instead of exhausting the squad limit with unproven Indian talents like Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Atharva Taide and Jitesh Sharma. 

However, what’s already done cannot be undone, and the best solution left for the Kings now is to make do with the resources at hand. They have shelled out more than ₹20 crore on Liam Livingstone and Shahrukh Khan, both of whom are explosive middle-order batters with the ability to play incredible, match-altering knocks. They possess everything that the Kings middle order has failed to deliver over the last two seasons.  

Having said that, both Livingstone and Khan will need to be given enough time and backing so that they can feel secure within the environment, especially given that the Punjab camp has been notoriously famous in the past for becoming a toxic environment rather quickly. Glenn Maxwell’s performances for the Royal Challengers Bangalore last season is the perfect example of how improved headspace and a secure environment within a squad can bring out the best in most players. Thus, the Kings must and should look to give both Khan and Livingstone the freedom to go berserk; should things work out, there shall be no bowling attack capable of restricting them on any given day. 

THREAT

The PBKS management group is known for never shying away from making a change, even if that change were to be an unnecessary one. Thus, despite boasting one of the best-on-paper groups of players, there are certain question marks over how the team will be run and managed throughout the 2022 IPL season. 

As I have mentioned before, the alarm bells are already ringing, and even before the season has begun, the chopping-and-changing has seemingly started: just another twist in the tale in the Punjab Kings camp. 

According to reports, the PBKS management is having another change of heart, and it could be Mayank Agarwal instead of Shikhar Dhawan leading the side for IPL 2022. These are the sort of decisions that have led the Kings to where they are now. There is nothing wrong with Agarwal being appointed the captain, but if that’s their decision, then they shouldn’t have been hinting post the auction that the highly-experienced Dhawan would be given the captaincy ahead of the new season. Such decisions not only negatively impact the morale of the group, they also create an internal divide among the players. 

Moreover, when you look closely at each and every player who is a part of this PBKS squad, you notice a clear lack of leadership within the group. Yes, Shikhar Dhawan is a veteran of the game and has more than a decade’s worth of experience playing for Team India, having also led the national team recently to the tour of Sri Lanka, where both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were rested for the white-ball legs. He also had a brief stint as the SunRisers Hyderabad skipper from the 2013 Champions League Twenty20 to midway through IPL 2014 before he was replaced by Darren Sammy. While it won’t be fair to examine his captaincy during the Sri Lankan tour in isolation to judge his calibre as a captain, Dhawan looked average at best and inept at making split-second match-altering decisions even when he was leading the SunRisers before Sammy stepped in midway through the 2014 season. 

Mayank Agarwal, on the other hand, captained the Punjab Kings last season against the Mumbai Indians in the absence of KL Rahul, who had to undergo an appendicitis surgery. Mayank scored 99 not out and was awarded the Man of the Match award, though he still ended up on the losing side. Beyond that, Jonny Bairstow and Kagiso Rabada could be considered for the role. Maybe. Their biggest challenge will be not having someone with a proven track record captaincy-wise. In a group of 25, there are just four or five leaders, which doesn’t look good for a team that is run by an erratic management team. 

Despite the firepower and flair the Punjab Kings possess, coupled with a strong playing XI, there are certain pieces in the puzzle that just aren’t fitting. As far as the overall standing goes, I expect them to play some exciting cricket, but they’ll also implode from time to time, leading to a season full of ups and downs. But, as the dust settles in, I expect them to find themselves just outside the Playoff spots. 

PREDICTION: 5th

%d bloggers like this: