'It will make the side look completely different,' Gambhir identifies 3 KXIP should target at IPL 2021 auction
Punjab Kings (formerly Kings XI Punjab), the IPL 2014 finalists, did not have the best of campaign during the last season. In IPL 2020, the Kings, finished sixth on the points table. After getting their campaign off to a winning start, team lost six matches in a row and even though they regrouped to win their next five games on the trot, it was too late.
Former India batsman Gautam Gambhir feels the rub of the green did not go Punjab Kings' way and that one of the reasons behind their finish was the inability to finish out close matches.
"They were a bit unlucky; I would say. One of the games I still remember, obviously was against Delhi Capitals, one game was against KKR where they missed by an inch. But there are no excuses; ultimately if you don’t win, you don’t win – as simple as it gets. You have been in the competition to win," Gambhir said on the Cricket Connected – Auction Special Show on Star Sports.
However, with a fresh season approaching, Punjab Kings have a chance to start afresh. Ahead of the IPL 2021 auction, which takes place Thursday in Chennai, the franchise released nine players in Glenn Maxwell, Karun Nair, Hardus Viljoen, Jagadeesha Suchith, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Sheldon Cottrell, Jimmy Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Tajinder Singh. And with a purse of ₹53.2 crore, the biggest among all eight teams, Punjab Kings would be eyeing a great outing at the auction. Given the lack of depth in their fast-bowling department, Gambhir reckons Punjab Kings should target another pacer to partner Mohammed Shami with the new ball.
"There are always small margins but at the same time they might have to probably strengthen their Indian bowling because apart from Mohammed Shami there is no one who could compliment him. Probably Umesh Yadav will be a very good pick – Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav bowling with a new ball; so, they can actually rotate their fast bowlers," Gambhir said.
"If you have got two Indian bowlers bowling with the new ball, it can actually open one gap for you from an overseas point of view – so they can have someone like Chris Morris who can bowl well in the death as well, and at the same time Kyle Jamieson – so they can pick both of them."
Besides Umesh, there are two more promising all-rounders knocking on the door, whom Gambhir believes, if Punjab Kings can acquire, can transform the side completely and make them a threat for all the remaining franchises.
"Imagine if you have Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Kyle Jamieson and Chris Morris plus two leg spinners with Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. Your batting becomes such a dangerous batting, you have got a very good Indian talent – you have Mayank Aggarwal, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda plus Chris Morris, Kyle Jamieson," Gambhir explained.
"I think they should look at someone like Umesh Yadav, Kyle Jamieson and Chris Morris – these are the three players if they look to target and actually can get them in the auction, which they will because they have so much of money. It will make the entire side look completely different."
Star Sports will have cricket experts including Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan and Aakash Chopra analyse the IPL Auction at the pre-show from 2 PM onwards.