Agarwal’s men have plenty of power-hitting talent, but will have to do without Bairstow for their season opener
Many IPL teams spend a lot of time going to auction to buy back the players they should have let go. And it makes for fun to watch because their rivals are always pushing the price. However, Punjab Kings did things a little differently.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will be the first team to take on the challenge to feature a lineup with Shikhar Dhawan at the top, Liam Livingstone in the middle and Odean Smith at the end.
In the news
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Anuj Rawat, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shelfane Rutherford, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Harshal Patel, 9 Shahbaz Ahmed/Karn Sharma, 10 Mohammed Siraj , 11 David Willey
Punjab Kings: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 3 Liam Livingstone, 4 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 5 Shahrukh Khan, 6 Prabhsimran Singh (wk), 7 Odean Smith, 8 Nathan Ellis/Harpreet Brar, 9 Sandeep Sharma, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Rahul Chahar
David Willey is a power play 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, since the DY Patil stadium actually aids bowling, there’s even a chance the English left arm will do something that’s been impossible lately: swing the white cricket ball.
- Many teams may resort to slowing down the pace to keep the Royal Challengers lineup in check. Of the 20 players who scored more than 100 runs against spin last season, Kohli had the lowest hitting percentage (100 out of 10 innings) and du Plessis the third lowest (108.08 in 12 innings). Dinesh Karthik’s 20 average against spin was the fourth lowest for a batter in IPL 2021 (minus 10 innings). Punjab will be happy to exploit this weakness, especially since they don’t have to worry about Maxwell throwing a spanner in the works.
Statistics that matter
- The DY Patil stadium has hosted 17 IPL matches so far (none in the past two years though). Ten of those were won by the chasing team and you’ll know why when you see the first innings average score: 147.
- Agarwal will captain a senior level cricket team for the fourth time in his career. And while such lack of experience can be a challenge to overcome, it should help that the 31-year-old now knows his game inside out. Agarwal has especially gotten good at the pace of his innings and is an absolute threat in the middle overs (7-16) with a strike rate of 158.68. Of those with at least 50 runs in this period since IPL 2019, only four others are doing better.
- du Plessis likes to play against Punjab. His average – 61 – and number 50 – 7 – are both much higher (42 vs KKR and 3 vs RCB) than his records against any other IPL team.
- Sandeep Sharma has rejected Kohli seven times an IPL record.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo