Mayank Agarwal is one of the most consistent and reliable batters in the Indian Premier League for quite some time now. Agarwal has done well for the Punjab Kings in the last three seasons but he seems to be struggling with the bat this time around and it seems like captaincy could be the reason.
The Indian Premier League has undergone a huge change this year with the tournament becoming a ten-team event from the old format of eight teams. The dynamics of the league have changed and it has become much more challenging to qualify for the playoffs this season. When the addition of two teams was announced to the original setup of 8 there were only speculations of how the tournament would proceed in 2022.
But, slowly and steadily the BCCI and the IPL governing body made things clear and announced that only four players can be retained by every franchise. The addition to this was that a mega-auction would take place which caught the interest and intrigue of fans as well as franchises as they had to build their team from scratch.
Every franchise came into the auction with a plan and they had a clear idea of what kind of team they wanted to build. All the teams had a plan of action and wanted to make sure that they can build a side that would be well balanced and would have the potential to win the IPL trophy. The auction was memorable as franchises went after players that they wanted which started bidding wars. But when the auction ended almost all teams looked well balanced and it felt like the fifteenth season would see tough competition amongst teams.
Punjab Kings was the only franchise that retained just two players initially. It was only Mayank Agarwal and Arshdeep Singh that the franchise went ahead and retained and it was almost certain that the opening batter would replace his former partner KL Rahul as the skipper of the side for the upcoming season. Soon after the auction, Mayank Agarwal was announced as the man who would lead Punjab Kings in IPL 2022.
The team looked really good on paper and many cricket experts believed that Punjab had covered all bases with an opening batter like Shikhar Dhawan to partner Mayank many felt the openers would be explosive for Punjab. The franchise also managed to rope in Kagiso Rabada as the spearhead of their pace attack.
Punjab Kings have never won the IPL and with Mayank Agarwal, as the skipper, they had a reliable batter who has been with the franchise since 2018 and was first bought for INR 1 crore. Agarwal's form with the bat over the years had been consistent and he was one of the best batters in the Indian Premier League.
IPL 2022 was supposed to be the year where Mayank Agarwal like many other batters should have gone one step ahead and proven that he can do even better with the bat when given the captaincy of the side. But, that has not been the case with the right-handed opening batter. Agarwal's form has dipped and he has not been batting like he has been doing since the 2018 season. Agarwal looks unsure as it looks like he can't decide whether to bat freely or to just go out and anchor the innings as his predecessor did.
This is causing more problems for the fairly young skipper in the IPL as neither is he doing exceptionally well as a batter nor is he being able to bat the way that he used to. Since 2019, Mayank Agarwal has averaged above 25 constantly which is good in the shortest format of the game.
In 2019, he scored 332 runs from 13 matches and gave performances that showed the class that he possessed. In the following year, he unleashed another level of his batting as he smashed 424 runs in just 11 matches averaging a staggering 38.54 and a career-best strike rate of 156.45.
The 2021 season of the Indian Premier League also saw Mayank Agarwal's dominance as the batter amassed 441 runs with an average of 40.09 from 12 games. These kinds of performances must have convinced the Punjab Kings management to hand over the captaincy of the side to Mayank Agarwal.
Agarwal too must have appreciated that the franchise has shown trust and rewarded him for the kind of performances that he has given for the side. But, the plan seems to be not working at the moment. Mayank Agarwal is having a really poor IPL season with the bat by his own standards.
The thirty-one-year-old batter has played 7 matches as captain of the Punjab Kings so far this season and has only managed to score 136 runs at an abysmal average of 19.43 which is his lowest since 2014 when he played the same number of games and could not make an impact.
It's quite evident that the Punjab Kings captaincy has taken a toll on him and he is not being able to deliver like he used to with the bat. The other issue is that it's not as if the Punjab side is not well balanced or anything it is just that Agarwal seems to be trying to take all the pressure on his shoulders whenever he comes out to bat which then reflects on his batting.
As a captain, Mayank is yet to prove his mettle as his side has lost 4 games out of the 8 that they have played. So, if Mayank Agarwal the batter starts scoring runs then it is highly likely that a well-balanced side like Punjab Kings will have a real chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
The fans of the franchise will be hoping that their captain can come good with the bat as that can help them do much better in the remaining games of the IPL 2022 season.