IPL 2021: Beleaguered Punjab Kings must give Ravi Bishnoi a chance

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 22, 2021
Ravi Bishnoi of impressed last year at the IPL. (BCCI)

Even Punjab's batting has depended heavily on Rahul and Mayank Agarwal

After winning their opening encounter against the Rajasthan Royals by a narrow margin, Punjab Kings have hit a trough, losing the next three games, and are currently languishing at the bottom of the points table.

Three successive defeats can demoralise players from any team. Confidence becomes low and self-doubt creeps in.

Skipper KL Rahul has his task cut out to ensure that this does not turn into defeatism. There are enough examples in the IPL and leagues across the world where talented teams have suffered because of this.

Rahul’s problem is compounded by the fact that the Punjab Kings now appear to be struggling in both bowling and batting. In the first three matches, batsmen put up big scores which bowlers failed to defend.

In the fourth match, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Punjab could muster a measly 120 which was overhauled by David Warner’s team, even if it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk.

Even Punjab’s batting has depended heavily on Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. If both these players don’t get going, it becomes a disaster.

A couple of other batsmen, Chris Gayle and Deepak Hooda, have clicked sporadically, while Nicholas Pooran has three ducks in four innings, which is hardly reassuring going into a match against the defending champions Mumbai Indians.

Despite stellar names, Punjab’s bowling has been quite toothless. Mohammed Shami has been good in some spells, but not the consistent threat to worry rival batsmen.

Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith, the Big Bash League heroes on whom Punjab spent a fortune, have been benign. Spinner M Ashwin has not shown any wicket-taking threat.

The only bowler to have made an impact is the young Arshdeep Singh with his tight control and clever variations.

For some reason, leg spinner Ravi Bishnoi, one of the successes last season, hasn’t found favour with the team management.

Considering that this match is on spin-friendly Chepauk ground, Bishnoi should be among the first to be picked in the playing XI.

Mumbai have issues of their own, and their batting has been a big concern. In all four matches played so far, the defending champions have struggled to get 150.

It’s because of their bowlers– leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, pacers Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah -- that they’ve still managed to win two games.

The top-order has clicked intermittently. For teams’ to get big scores, two or three batsmen from the top five must get substantial scores, which has not been happening for the Mumbai Indians this season.

Moreover, the explosive lower middle-order – Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya –has failed to fire, which has resulted in below par scores.

While Mumbai’s bowlers have been excellent, batting shortcomings can’t be covered up every time. Against the Delhi Capitals, Mumbai put up a fight while defending 137, but lost the game.

Rohit Sharma pointed out after the match that the slow turner was not to be blamed for the defeat. Instead the captain blamed team’s poor batting to potential.

Eliminating lame excuses is often the first step to redemption.

Players To Watch Out For:

MI: Rahul Chahar, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard

PBKS: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh

Friday’s match

Punjab vs Mumbai

6pm UAE Time

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