IPL 2021: Bowling remains an issue for Punjab and CSK

Ravi Bishnoi of Kings XI Punjab was impressive last season.  (BCCI)
Ravi Bishnoi of Kings XI Punjab was impressive last season. (BCCI)

Mumbai - There is clearly need for the Punjab attack to have more edge and not rely only on its heavy-duty top order to win matches

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Thu 15 Apr 2021, 6:42 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Apr 2021, 6:56 PM

Punjab Kings’ batsmen were in splendid form when they scored 221 in their opening match against the Rajasthan Royals. But the fact that Rajasthan could get within a stroke of winning would have made coach Anil Kumble and captain KL Rahul spend many hours on the drawing board to sort out issues with the bowling.

Even on a featherbed, and acknowledging Sanju Samson’s solo brilliance, Rajasthan just got too close for comfort. Barring Mohammed Shami and young Arshdeep Singh, no other Punjab bowler could keep a check on the runs once Samson got into the flow.

The two Aussies, Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, who had been bought with high expectations after their success in the Big Bash League, suffered from first-time nerves.

Will Punjab bring in the more experienced Moises Henriques or Chris Jordan? Or both?

And what about the young leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi who made such a fine impression last season?

There is clearly need for the Punjab attack to have more edge and not rely only on its heavy-duty top order to win matches.

Rahul has become an IPL-run scoring ogre, Deepak Hooda’s explosive half century took heavy toll on Rajasthan in the previous match, Mayank Agarwal has an enviable record in the league and Nicholas Pooran has a reputation for decimating attacks.

Such batting strength, nonetheless, can’t diminish the value of having bowlers who can pick up wickets, keep a check on runs or preferably both.

Unlike at Chepauk, matches played so far at Wankhede have been high scoring, and batsmen friendly, which puts great onus on the bowlers to excel if their team have to win.

While the Chennai Super Kings lost their opening match to the Kolkata Knight Riders, their batting had done quite well. Suresh Raina returned to the IPL with a bang, Ravindra Jadeja showed no ill-effects of the injury that had kept him out for a few months.

Despite the openers failing, Moeen Ali and Ambati Rayudu performed well in the middle order, and Sam Curran showed his value, giving the innings much needed flourish towards the end. Only MS Dhoni, who got a duck, was the disappointment.

Despite making 188, the CSK were easily overhauled by the Delhi Capitals. No bowler could contain the rampaging opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw. By the time they fell, after a scintillating century partnership, the match had been lost.

The CSK too, therefore, need to reassess their bowling attack. But they have fewer options – especially among overseas players – than Punjab. If Imran Tahir is played instead of Moeen, the batting suffers. Mitchell Santner, who can bat a bit, is a possibility, but Dhoni may not want two left-arm spinners.

Lungi Ngidi has been in good form recently. However, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo are too valuable in all departments to be dropped.

The CSK have good supply of resources, but they are still seeking the right combination and balance. And the mojo for a winning momentum.

Friday's match

Punjab vs Chennai

6pm UAE Time

Players To Watch Out For:

PBKS: KL Rahul, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami

CSK: Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni

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