Best finish — Runner-up (2014)
Last season — Sixth
Despite fielding one of its strongest squads in recent years, Punjab Kings failed to qualify for the Playoffs yet again last season. While it has retained the core from the 2022 batch, PBKS has let go of Mayank Agarwal and appointed Shikhar Dhawan as the new man in-charge instead. The constant chopping and changing in team personnel has not helped Punjab create a formula to reach the Playoffs consistently — the last appearance being in 2014 when it finished runner-up. Punjab will play its home matches in Mohali and Dharamsala and hopes to make a winning start when it hosts Kolkata Knight Riders on April 1.
Strengths: Power-hitting is Punjab Kings’ newfound batting template. In Liam Livingstone, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and uncapped stars Jitesh Sharma and Shahrukh Khan, Punjab has numerous options to bludgeon opposition attacks. However, PBKS will be fretting over the availability of the injured Jonny Bairstow. PBKS also has a potent seam bowling trio in Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and its record Rs. 18.25 crore buy, Sam Curran.
Weaknesses: Spin Bowling. Barring leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, Punjab Kings does not have a spinner of note. While Harpreet Brar has shone occasionally, PBKS may need to rely on Sikandar Raza alongside Chahar on its matches away from home.
Shikhar Dhawan (captain): Dhawan is a man who relishes his challenges. No longer a regular in the national side across formats, Dhawan would have a point to prove when he puts on his captaincy hat for the Punjab Kings. The 37-year-old southpaw has also been a consistent run-getter in the IPL, breaching the 450-run mark every season since 2016.
Best overseas player - Sam Curran: Curran’s return to his first IPL franchise has come after resounding success with England. The left-handed all-rounder’s superb new-ball and death overs bowling helped him snap up 13 wickets in the T20 World Cup last year. England was crowned champion and Curran was named the Player of the Tournament. Curran’s batting capabilities as a floater make him a potent option, employed often during his Chennai Super Kings stint in the past.
Best Indian player - Arshdeep Singh: Arshdeep was the find of 2022 for India as he evolved to become its T20I bowling spearhead in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah. The left-armer’s level-headed bowling in the death overs and ability to swing the ball up front makes him as much of a threat as a Rabada or a Curran.
Best uncapped player - Jitesh Sharma: Jitesh earned a surprise call-up to the India T20I squad in January after a superb season with Punjab. The wicketkeeper-batter amassed 234 runs from 12 innings while playing as the finisher. His strike rate of 163.63 was second only to Dinesh Karthik among Indians in the 2022 season.
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