India opener, KL Rahul was named as the new captain of the Punjab franchise in the Indian T20 League on Thursday, replacing Ravichandran Ashwin, who captained them in 2018 and 2019, after they executed a trade deal with Delhi.

Rahul was bought by Punjab in the 2018 auctions alongside Ashwin for ₹11 crores, and was their most expensive buy that particular year. He has been a good performer since then, scoring 659 and 593 in the two seasons since while opening the batting, mostly alongside Chris Gayle.

He has scored 12 half-centuries and a sole century for Punjab, with a 100* against Mumbai last season. It has come at a healthy strike-rate of 158.41 and 135.38 respectively, and at a very impressive average of 54.5.

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The consistent performances by Rahul was bound to be rewarded at some point in time and with Ashwin’s departure, it presented the perfect opportunity for Punjab to elevate him to lead a largely young side.

Moreover, Rahul has a lot of players he knows from Karnataka in the Punjab side- with Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Jagadeesha Suchith and Krishnappa Gowtham joining him, which means he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the team’s core players.

Punjab also made good use of the large purse they had in the Indian T20 League auctions last night, shelling out big bucks for the maverick Glenn Maxwell and impressive Sheldon Cottrell to get the marquee players in.

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They made smart and cheap buys, bringing in the likes of youngsters Ravi Bishnoi and Ishan Porel, who have been impressive in the domestic circuit. They had let go of young wicket-keeper, Prabhsimran Singh but bought him back at a much lower price, freeing up their funds.

Kiwi all-rounder, James Neesham was another bargain buy as Punjab spent a mere ₹50 lakhs to get an experienced and useful player to the team.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee