Kings XI Punjab, the franchise that focuses on talent from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu & Kashmir apart from international arena have not quite dominated the IPL enough to grab our complete attention towards them when compared to some of the other teams.
Their best year (2014) has been the 7th edition in which they were consistently dominant and finished as the runners-up as they came second in a thriller of a final against KKR.
Several greats of the game have been associated with the Kings in different capacities and gave everything they could to clinch the elusive title. Let alone the most avid fans of Punjab, an IPL follower whose favourite team is not necessarily Punjab too would hope success for the team given how passionately one of their owners, Preity Zinta, has been supporting the KXIP family through the thick and thin over the past decade.
— Preity G Zinta (@realpreityzinta) April 7, 2018
However, every year is a new beginning and they have done well in the auction and in acquiring personnel like Venkatesh Prasad and Brad Hodge. As the upcoming season gets underway on Saturday (April 7th), here’s an analysis of the squad they have assembled:
1. The pleasing thing would be the spin options that they have at their disposal- Ash (watch out for his leg-spin too), slow-left arm from Axar and the mystery dimension from Afghan teenage sensation Mujeeb. Mayank Dagar (nephew of Viru, who is the director of cricket operations at KXIP) and Pardeep Sahu are the other Indian spinners in the squad.
2. The combination of Andrew Tye and Mohit Sharma bowling in tandem towards the fag end is bound to catch our attention given the countless number of variations and skills they bring to the fore.
3. The squad surely does have a lot of good batsmen and the list looks quite intimidating. They not only have explosive hitters and game changers but also players who can adapt according to the need of the hour.
1. KL Rahul and Akshdeep Nath are very good with the bat but might not be the first-choice wicket-keeping options that teams would ideally go after. An opportunity lost in the form of a dropped catch or missed stumping can very much be the difference between winning and losing a game.
2. Barinder Sran and Ankit Rajpoot have fared reasonably well for their previous IPL teams and they may have an important role to play at some stage. Will they be able to execute their plans under pressure against some of the powerful hitters of the game is a question that only time will answer.
3. KXIP would be hoping their gun death bowler Andrew Tye and star all-rounder Marcus Stoinis go through the entire campaign unscathed as the team do not seem to have like for like backup options for them in their squad.
IPL is all about opportunities and Kings XI would be eager to go all guns blazing after a tough decade. The squad looks promising and capable of converting opportunities into results.
Ashwin in a new role as the leader would look to unleash his tactics and ploys in addition to rediscovering his mojo as a limited-overs bowler. Yuvi and Gayle must be itching to get to the park to prove to themselves more than to anybody else that they are still the most fearsome batsmen going around.
This season will also serve as a great opportunity for Karun, Rahul, Miller and Tiwary to put in more consistent performances on the board to help win games of cricket and spread joy to the loyal fans.
We have seen amazing talent emerge and flourish into something bigger through the platform called IPL and it is a potentially life-changing opportunity for players like Manzoor Dar -a hard-hitting batsman from Jammu & Kashmir and Ben Dwarshuis -a left arm pacer from New South Wales.
1. There is talent and potential in abundance, but it eventually boils down to form and momentum. Most of the batsmen do not have bucket loads of runs under their belt coming into the tourney barring Mayank Agarwal who has had a stellar domestic season.
2. Another threat is the challenge of Indian contingent of fast bowlers stepping up to the occasion as and when required. The league features top-notch batsmen and the fringe players better be ready to embrace tough battles.
3. Few players in this squad are flexible enough to play at the top and in the middle order. However, the team management should be spot on in terms of sorting out the batting order and the team combination before it gets too late.
KXIP’s squad for IPL 2018: Akshar Patel, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar
– by Nikhil Vadapalli