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IPL 2022: Rabada's form key to Punjab Kings' fortunes

Kagiso Rabada coming into his own has been a big factor in Punjab's revival, writes Ayaz Memon



Kagiso Rabada of the Punjab Kings celebrates after taking the wicket of Wriddhiman  Saha of the Gujarat Titans. (BCCI)
Kagiso Rabada of the Punjab Kings celebrates after taking the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha of the Gujarat Titans. (BCCI)

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Sat 7 May 2022, 12:44 AM

After an astonishingly easy win over Gujarat Titans in their previous match, Punjab Kings will look to consolidate their position on the points table.

But the Rajasthan Royals, their opponents today, are no pushovers.

In fact, the Royals have been among the leading teams since the tournament began. But getting the better of Titans, will have whet the appetite and boost Punjab’s confidence. Having begun the season impressively, the team lapsed into a longish spell of mediocrity which seems to have been shrugged off.

Kagiso Rabada coming into his own has been a big factor in Punjab’s revival. The pace spearhead, who had been so impressive for the Delhi Capitals in the past, looked somewhat off colour in the first month for his new franchise before hitting peak form last week.

He picked up four wickets against the Lucknow Super Giants for 38 runs, and was even more effective against frontrunners Gujarat Titans, this time claiming four for just 33 runs.

International players like Rabada are picked by franchises for their expertise and more importantly, match-winning abilities. On Indian pitches, fast bowlers are handicapped, which is where their superior skills and richer experience become crucial.

Rabada is usually among the highest wicket-takers in the tournament. In the first month this season, it looked like the edge in his bowling was missing. In the last couple of matches, he has been sharp and potent. Perhaps it was just a matter of settling down in a new environment.

With Rabada in this form, and Rahul Chahar is finally looking like a champion leg-spinner.

With the young Arshdeep Singh shaping up as a fantastic death overs bowler, Punjab seem to have the bowling attack to challenge the best batting units.

Rajasthan are among the teams boasting a heavy-duty top-order featuring Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer.

The onus for securing a win for Punjab, however, is not on bowling alone. The batting has to come good too. After the first few matches, the batting has been surprisingly inconsistent.

While Shikhar Dhawan, Liam Livingstone and Bhanusha Rajapaksa have maintained a reasonably consistent level, the other front liners have been lacklustre.

Jonny Bairstow has been moved up and down the order, but without success. The bigger issue is Mayank Agarwal’s waning form. Runs from these two are critical if Punjab have to sustain the winning momentum.

But it’s not going to be easy against the Royals who have one of the most potent bowling attacks in the league.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator


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