Punjab Kings were dealt with a major jolt on Sunday as their skipper KL Rahul was diagnosed with acute appendicitis, after complaints of severe abdomen pain a night before. Although it is not clear how long the surgical procedure to follow will keep him out of IPL 2021, it is likely that it is the end of the season for the star batsman.
His outgoing comes at a difficult time as Punjab Kings are languishing at the bottom half of the table and failed to find spark in the match against eventual table toppers Delhi Capitals on Sunday. It was, however, evident that his Karnataka opening partner Mayank Agarwal stepped into the role well but failed to find support from the rest of his teammates.
Asked to bat, Agarwal paced his innings cautiously picking up singles and doubles, while hitting the odd balls to the fence. His fellow batsmen Prabhsimran Kaur (12), Chris Gayle (13) and David Malan (26) failed to last on the crease for too long. The opener, however, maintained his calm to bat through the innings as he scored an unbeaten 99 off 58 deliveries. His knock was laced with eight boundaries and four sixes to the fence. It was also a remarkable show for Agarwal as he remained unperturbed with the regular fall of wickets from the other end.
And while Agarwal ticked all the boxes as a batsman. His captaincy lacked intent. He failed to adapt the aggressive approach from the onset as far as adjusting the field or changing his bowlers were concerned as Delhi Capitals openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan looked to run away with the match.
Adding to his misery were his key bowlers -- Mohammed Shami and Ravi Bishnoi -- who remained wicketless in the match. So much so, that Agarwal did not rely on Shami to bowl his stipulated four overs as he had conceded 37 runs from his three overs. The young leg spinner, meanwhile, leaked run at an economy rate of 10.50 in his four overs.
Punjab Kings find themselves at the sixth spot after playing eight matches -- most by any team in IPL 2021 -- with title contenders Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings to play next. It is expected to be a tough route for the Punjab franchise and stand-in captain Agarwal would expect more players to stand up to their role.