Punjab Kings (PBKS) have a lot to ponder. Be it Chris Gayles’ batting position or be it their inconsistency with both bat and ball or the fact that they have been chopping and changing a lot. Clearly, PBKS have a task on their hands and it won’t get easier for them as they prepare to take on defending champions Mumbai Indians on Friday (April 23).
Former England batsman Mark Butcher reckons while PBKS have the players to succeed, the fact that they have not been scoring consistently and regularly is hurting them in the long run. After a get-out-of-jail victory against Rajasthan Royals (RR), things have pretty much gone downhill for Punjab, who have lost three in a row now.
The likes of Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson, who fetched huge money in the auction, recently were dropped after being taken for runs at the Wankhede. However, they could be considered for the match in Chennai against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), given the slow nature of the tracks In came Fabian Allen and Moises Henriques in their place, presumably to add further depth in their all-rounders' department.
Butcher reckons that bowling should be the least of PBKS’ concerns at the moment.
"Having been in and around the players during IPL, I know sometimes frustration boils over. I know Andrew Tye in the past has been upset with his treatment. He was at Gujarat Lions. Overseas players dislike being left on the bench. There are all these overseas stars, there are a heck of a lot of games, you are going to miss out once a while. But having nothing in their favour in the pitches on Wankhede and then and then get a chance bowl on something that’s a little bit slower, stickier.” Butcher said during his face-off with Criclytics, Cricket.com’s AI-driven prediction platform.
“The scores have been a lot lower and both of them (Meredith and Richardson) sat out in that defeat against the Sunrisers. Probably one of them will be back in the side tonight – probably Jhye Richardson. At the moment, bowling is the least of their worries. (Not) Scoring regular, consistent runs has been killing Punjab,” he added.
One move that could help PBKS is bringing Dawid Malan into the XI and slotting him at No. 3, according to Butcher.
“You don’t get to be the No. 1 ranked T20 player in the world without that consistency. That should ease any worries that KL Rahul has about his strike-rate and keeping his foot to the floor. Chris Gayle is obviously a magnificent player, the best there’s ever been in T20. But he’s done all of it as an opener. An opener can judge the speed of his innings in a way that the batsmen coming in, whilst the innings is underway, are unable to do,” Butcher who has scored 4,288 Test runs for England in 71 matches, said on Cricket.com’s Man vs Machine
“I just think if it is too late to teach an old dog new tricks in Chris Gayle. If he’s going to bat No. 3, you might as well have somebody who does it for a living, i.e, Dawid Malan. That’s something that they have to juggle with,” he further added.
Historically, PBKS have been able to hold their own against MI, having won 12 out of 26 matches, but while MI have won titles after titles with their core still intact, PBKS have not had the same luxury. They have often spent big bucks, but the players have not been able to deliver. Will this be one of those seasons again?