Played 14, Won 6, Lost 8
Consistent openers and spinners.
The opening combination of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle once again did most of the scoring for Punjab. The two were their leading run-scorers by miles and fairly consistent throughout the season. The introduction of Nicholas Pooran also provided Punjab some much-required firepower in the second half of the tournament. While their fast bowling unit struggled, Punjab's spinners did a decent job in the 6-15 overs phase.
What didn't work
Lacklustre middle-order and fast bowling.
The middle-order comprising of Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, David Miller and Sarfaraz Khan looked good in patches but couldn't create an impact that the team management would have liked them to.
However, it was their fast bowling that hurt them the most. Apart from Mohammed Shami, other bowlers got hammered in the powerplays and death overs and couldn't support their spinners.
KL Rahul | Matches 14 | Runs 593 | Average 53.90 | Strike rate 135.38 | Century 1 | Fifties 6
Rahul once again looked class apart from the rest of Punjab batsmen. The right-hander contributed in almost every game and also scored a century. He finished off this season with a blistering 36-ball 71 against Chennai Super Kings. However, Rahul couldn't play with same freedom throughout the competition because of lack of consistency in the middle-order. Punjab might have failed to capitalise on his form but India will be happy with the kind of innings Rahul played ahead of the World Cup.
R Ashwin | Matches 14 | Wickets 15 | Economy 7.27
Shami did claim 19 wickets and was Punjab's leading wicket-taker, but it was Ashwin who was more consistent. The offspinner was the most economical bowler for his side and was also amongst wickets. His best performance (3 for 23) came against his former team Chennai Super Kings. Ashwin the captain might have missed out on a couple of tricks but Ashwin the bowler was at his very best this edition.
Having been one of the mainstays of Punjab's batting lineup over the years, Miller had a horrible IPL 2019. The South African batsman only managed 213 runs in 10 games at an average of 26.62 before being dropped from the squad. The left-hander hit only one fifty this season and that hurt Punjab big time. A lot was expected from Miller but the middle-order batsman hardly created any impact during crucial junctures and wasn't able to provide that finishing touch which he is known for.
Meanwhile, foreign seamers Andrew Tye, Sam Curran and Hardus Viljoen didn't do their jobs either.
Nicholas Pooran in action. (IPL)
The wicketkeeper-batsman from Trinidad featured only in seven games and that was enough for him to display what Punjab missed by not playing him in the remaining fixtures. The left-hander smashed 178 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 157. He didn't score a single fifty but slammed fiery cameos of 46, 21, 48 and 36. Pooran will most probably end up replacing Miller next season and will straightaway walk into Punjab's playing XI.
Areas to improve next season
Punjab can't always rely on Rahul and Gayle. There's a big question mark over Gayle's availability next season and it's important their middle order step up if Punjab want to do well. The likes of Agarwal, Mandeep, Sarfaraz and Karun Nair will have to take their game to next level and deliver on a consistent basis. They have been around for years and it's important they come up with a 500/600-run season.
Punjab will also have to get a reliable foreign bowler considering how bad they were in the bowling department. Also, there needs to be some consistency with the team combination.
First Published: May 6, 2019, 10:46 AM IST