Can PBKS’ middle order kick into gear in Ahmedabad?

PBKS will look to breach GT’s fortress. (Source:

In Lucknow, the partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Jonny Bairstow appeared unstoppable. At that moment, it seemed like Punjab Kings would secure victory over Lucknow Super Giants. However, fate had a different outcome in store. The turning point came in the 12th over when young pacer Mayank Yadav took the ball and delivered an exceptional spell, completely shifting the momentum in his team’s favour. He also exposed the vulnerabilities of PBKS’ middle order once more. Despite the promising start provided by the openers, PBKS faltered in their run chase, with the middle-order batters failing to deliver.

While they may attribute Liam Livingstone’s injury as a setback, the truth is that PBKS’ middle-order has been struggling for several seasons, and this trend has persisted in IPL 2024. Although the team’s captain has been performing well, the middle-order batsmen have failed to make significant contributions. Sam Curran stands out as the only middle-order player to have scored a half-century this season, while others have remained relatively quiet. While Livingstone has shown glimpses of brilliance with the bat, Jitesh Sharma has had a lacklustre start to the season. With Curran, Punjab is grappling to find the right batting position.

The Kings are grappling not only with issues in their middle-order but also with the performance of their 11.75 crore investment, Harshal Patel. The pace bowler has been a far cry of his former self. He appears to be struggling and lacking ideas, often delivering loose balls that the opposition capitalises on. Rarely does he execute his trademark dipping yorker, which has been his strength in recent years.

While Arshdeep and Rabada have been taking wickets, their economy rates have been problematic. Rahul Chahar has also been out of form, in contrast with the shining performance of Harpreet Brar; the sole bright spot for the Punjab-based team.

They have managed only one win at their home venue this season and struggled in away games. They are now up against Gujarat Titans, a team known for their strong home performances. Having defeated teams like Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad at home, GT must be brimming with confidence. In the last game, many favoured SRH due to their explosive middle-order. But GT’s brilliant tactics, coupled with an all-round effort from the bowling unit, helped in neutralising the opponent’s batting line-up. Incidentally, SRH had scored IPL’s highest total against MI a few days earlier.

David Miller’s return to form with the bat in the last game was a welcome sign for GT. Shubman Gill has got starts but he needs to convert those into big scores. In this batting line-up, with Sai Sudharsan being the anchor, there’s no role for Vijay Shankar. Miller showed that he likes to bat a bit higher up in the order, which can give GT the luxury to introduce another big-hitter in the lower-middle-order. It could be Abhinav Manohar or the new recruit Shahrukh Khan. Azmatullah Omarzai hasn’t done anything so far with the bat, but he has fulfilled his role as the new-ball bowler in the powerplay, something that Umesh Yadav has failed to do. In fact, if GT can get Dhawan and Bairstow early, then they would fancy choking the middle-order with the spin duo of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, and of course Mohit Sharma’s variations.

There’s not much history between these two teams as they have faced each other only three times, with GT coming out victorious on two occasions and PBKS winning one of them. On paper, PBKS’ fast bowling looks good with variety in the attack. When it comes to spin, GT have better resources. With the bat, GT looks a bit more settled than PBKS. Although, if PBKS batters live up to their reputation, then they can be very hard to stop. All in all, another exciting contest awaits us in Ahmedabad.

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