Punjab Kings will be desperate to qualify for the knockouts in the 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League. The franchise played its only final of the tournament in 2014 which it lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
There have been sweeping changes in the unit since. Big names such as Virender Sehwag, Brad Hodge and Mike Hesson have been part of the coaching and cricket operations group before Anil Kumble entered the ring as head coach in 2020.
After leading the side for a couple of seasons, K.L. Rahul has moved to Lucknow Super Giants, paving the way for his state-mate Mayank Agarwal to take the mantle of leadership in Punjab. Punjab will be hoping to flex muscles in the new season that starts March 26. In a chat with Sportstar ahead of the team’s first training session at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, Kumble discussed the possibilities of meeting the huge expectations with a fresh set of players.
It is a new start with a lot of fresh players. Do you think IPL should do away with such alternations in team combinations to build loyalty and identity?
This was the first time that I was involved in a big auction for Punjab Kings. There was a lot of buzz and that’s been the IPL rule. Our approach was to create a strong foundation for the franchise for the years to come; try and build a core group of players who will be there for the franchise for a long period of time.
battle-ready: Kagiso Rabada is one of the top bowlers in any format. He is still young and has played a lot of international cricket and the IPL. He is a brilliant bowler, so we targeted someone like him in the auction. We are glad that he is with us, head coach Anil Kumble said. – PTI
The retention rules may change in the future…
We don’t know what the rules are going to be going forward but now that you have 10 teams, maybe in the next couple of years we will know whether we can retain more players or there will be fresh auctions. I doubt there will be a major auction in the foreseeable future. We are happy with the squad.
Punjab always had powerful batters but the bowling was always a little up and down. Rabada can perhaps make it better. Your thoughts?
Our approach was to create a strong bowling unit. And Rabada is one of the top bowlers in any format. He is still young and has played a lot of international cricket and the IPL. He has a lot of cricket under his belt. He is not only a young tearaway fast bowler, but also has a lot of experience in the last seven years. He will probably become an all-time great when he finishes his career. He is a brilliant bowler, so we targeted someone like him in the auction. We are glad that he is with us. We have a young bowling attack, in terms of age, but not necessarily in terms of experience.
Will Jonny Bairstow be the first-choice wicketkeeper? Prabhsimran Singh is a talent too…
We have the option of Jonny Bairstow to keep wickets. He is probably one of the best players in this format, and he is extremely flexible with the way he approaches his batting, whether he wants to open or bat wherever needed. We were looking for that flexibility, and we have someone with that ability and experience who can also keep wickets. We were looking for these options.
Punjab picked up Liam Livingstone for a whopping Rs 11.5 crore. What are your expectations from him?
The strategy was to build a squad with more than one skill. Livingstone brings that to the table. He is not only a destructive batter, but has also shown his abilities as a bowler in the past two years. He bowls both off-spin and wrist-spin, which will be useful.