Newly appointed Punjab Kings skipper Mayank Agarwal believes the franchise has built a title-winning squad for the IPL as of March 26. After four seasons with the team, Agarwal has been given the lead responsibility following the shift from his opening partner KL Rahul to the Lucknow franchise. Agarwal amassed over 400 runs in the past two seasons and, along with Rahul, formed one of the strongest opening pairs in the IPL, but the team failed to make the play-offs.
Punjab has been praised for getting the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Liam Livingstone, Jonny Bairstow and Odean Smith into the IPL auction. Apart from the other retained player in Arshdeep Singh, Punjab also bought back uncapped power-hitter Shahrukh Khan. The team has underperformed for years and their only last appearance was in 2014. Management has pinned its hopes on its newest recruits to change the destiny of the team.
“We like to believe we have a title-winning squad and now it’s up to us as players to put our skills to the test and see what we can make of it,” Agarwal told PTI on Saturday.
“As a team we did a good job on the auction. We looked at a few skills in the knowledge that the tournament will be played in Mumbai and we have that foundation covered. We are happy with the balance we have.” As captain, his role on the flank increases enormously, but as a batter he doesn’t feel anything change.
“When I’m batting I’m just a batsman. We have a lot of leaders and experience in the team and that makes it easier for me. I want to excel as a batsman and do the things I’ve done. (About the captaincy) front) we made our plans to move the team forward,” said the India Test opener.
Agarwal is expected to open the at bat next to Dhawan, but he hasn’t revealed much about the combination.
“I can’t talk about batting order from now on, but I can definitely say we’re excited to have Shikhar on board. He’s an absolute livewire, a great entertainer, a huge performer and a lot of the guys will feed on his energy. He’s also in a great spirit space.” Agarwal said talks about him at the head of the party have been going on for a while and he is just excited about the opportunity. He briefly captained Punjab Kings last season when Rahul got injured and he thinks that experience will help him this season.
“It certainly helps (because I’ve led the team before). I’ve tasted what it feels like,” he said, adding that there’s no added pressure of never having won the title.
Punjab have updated their support staff for the 2022 season and have recruited power-hitting specialist Julian Wood. Agarwal said Wood is bringing “something else” to the table. “Woody is a top man. We’ve had a few sessions together. He has different ideas about the game, it’s great to work with him. He’s quite flexible and spends a lot of time with each batsman.”
“He doesn’t just talk about power hits, he analyzes their strengths and then tries to maximize their potential. He has been a great addition to the team and we look forward to using the skills he has taught us. feed,” he added.
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