Stand-in captain Mayank Agarwal was disappointed after his valiant 99* on debut as IPL captain went in vain as Delhi Capitals gunned down the 167-run target to hand Punjab Kings their fifth defeat of IPL 2021 in Ahmedabad. Two pointers from this. KL Rahul was missing after he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis after not responding to medication. And the other one, despite individual brilliance, Punjab still came up short when it comes to team composition and winning as a unit.
Just to elaborate, in his first match as a stand-in captain, Mayank took on the responsibility well to hit 99 not out in just 58 balls. However, he found very little support from the rest of the batters.
Just two days before, Rahul had played an impressive unbeaten knock of 91 in 57 balls in the last match against Royale Challengers Bangalore. Punjab Kings had defeated RCB by 34 runs.
The elegant batsman’s availability for the rest of the campaign would be determined by the Kings once the doctors ascertain the diagnosis. But looking at the usual period of recovery following appendix surgery, he might be a doubt for the remainder of the competition – returning to normal activity typically takes between one and three weeks.
KL Rahul a big miss for Punjab
They say a true leader leads by an example, which applies quite aptly to Rahul. That for a long, Punjab have been struggling for consistency, having regularly finished in the bottom half of the table. But for years, Rahul has been a consistent performer with the bat.
The talented batsman has emerged to be one of the top attractions in the cash-rich league. The opener finished the 13th edition of IPL as the leading run-scorer and has also showcased a stunning form with the bat this year as well. After having played 7 matches in the IPL 2021 so far, the champion cricketer has amassed 331 runs at a fantastic average of 66.20.
Rahul has led the PBKS side from the front and has scored four stunning half-centuries in the ongoing edition of IPL. It remains to be seen if the KL Rahul IPL 2021 journey is over, or whether the player will still make a comeback in the latter stages of the tournament.
Given Rahul’s influence as a captain and exploits with the bat, this comes as a major setback for the Punjab franchise which beat RCB recently in Ahmedabad. Rahul has been flown to Mumbai for surgery and further treatment
— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) May 2, 2021
Sans KL Rahul, the way ahead for Punjab
Punjab Kings, sitting in the bottom half of the IPL 2021 points table, have won three matches this season so far and lost four. They are fifth on the table behind Mumbai Indians, who have four wins from seven games.
For them to have a realistic chance of making it to a playoff needs a big effort. In the remaining 7 matches, Punjab need to win a minimum of five to have a look in the playoff competition. For that, they need the likes of Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran to stand up and take up the responsibility to score big runs, especially in the absence of KL Rahul.
The Caribbean duo have been big-name players over the years, but have had a forgettable season thus far. For Punjab’s batting to come together, stand-in skipper Mayank Agarwal needs to play a big part too. He started off on the right note, chalking an unbeaten 99-but it needs a team effort to make individual performances count. The road ahead for Punjab is tricky, but certainly not impossible.