Languishing at the 8th spot in the points table, Punjab Kings have managed to pocket only three of their seven games so far, and will seek revival of fortune when they take on a struggling Chennai Super Kings, placed one rung lower than the red and gold brigade, at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
The last time they faced each other earlier this month, Punjab held the upper hand with a 54-run win.
But with the defending champions eventually ending their forgettable start of five consecutive losses, with victories against RCB and Mumbai Indians, it certainly won’t be a walk in the park for Mayank Agarwal‘s side.
Move over 🚁, here’s Shikhar’s 🚀 shot #PunjabKings #SaddaPunjab #IPL2022 #ਸਾਡਾਪੰਜਾਬ #ShikharDhawan @SDhawan25 https://t.co/FV3o6J1v7y
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) 1650821285000
Over the seasons, one thing that has plagued Punjab is lack of consistency, and despite boasting of the best muscle-power in their batting line-up this season, the Kings’ vulnerability was exposed by the quality left-arm spin of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav, leading to a nine-wicket humiliation at the hands of Delhi Capitals in their previous outing.
While Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan have been amongst the runs, their main worry will be the misfiring Englishman Jonny Bairstow, who has been a pale shadow of his glorious best during his stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last couple of seasons.
Another 𝙈&𝙈 we all love! ❤️#SaddaPunjab #IPL2022 #PunjabKings #ਸਾਡਾਪੰਜਾਬ #PBKSvCSK @msdhoni https://t.co/P1LuedoSWY
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) 1650819995000
Having managed 41 runs in four innings at a paltry strike rate of 105. 12, Bairstow will be feeling the pinch as another failure could see him make way for Sri Lankan power-hitter Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who boasts of a staggering strike-rate of 230. 56, and has already proved his credentials in the first three games.
The other English import Liam Livingstone has been in superb form, save the last outing against Delhi, which in a way exposed the lack of adaptability of an all-out attacking approach from Punjab. Jitesh Sharma and M Shahrukh Khan have consistently delivered the goods.
Striking through the nets ⚔️#Yellove #WhistlePodu 🦁💛 @imjadeja https://t.co/vUSI57d7jm
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) 1650814434000
Given Punjab’s record of constantly changing their XI, it will be interesting to see if West Indian all-rounder Odean Smith is brought back to bolster their lower-order batting.
Punjab’s bowling has been decent with pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada justifying his hefty Rs 9.25 crore price tag, while Arshdeep Singh and Vaibhav Arora complementing the South African well. Spinners Rahul Chahar and Livingstone will be expected to pull up their socks against the likes of Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Catch up 🤝 before the match up💪!#WhistlePodu #Yellove 🦁💛 https://t.co/yhjvHpeAG7
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) 1650801735000
Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, will be inspired by the efforts of the legendary Dhoni, who besides forcing Mumbai Indians into submission also reminded his critics that his finishing skills are still among the best in world cricket. With hopes of being in the play-offs race hanging by a thread, the Yellow brigade will be expecting the likes of Ruturaj and Moeen Ali to get back to form. Senior batters Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu have been consistent but their skipper Ravindra Jadeja is yet to fire with both the bat and ball.
Their bowling have been seriously hit by the absence of Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne, but despite that old warhorse Dwayne Bravo has led the unit well with rookie pacer Mukesh Choudhary announcing his arrival with three wickets in the last game.