Former India opener and commentator Aakash Chopra, who featured for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2009 recently picked his all-time XI of Kings XI Punjab. The Punjab based franchise has been one of the most poor-performing franchises in IPL history along with Delhi and Bangalore.
Despite having star players like Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad in the past, they have failed to qualify for the playoffs on numerous occasions. As the side embarks on another hunt for the title, Chopra picked their best XI since the inception of IPL.
Aakash Chopra went with Chris Gayle and KL Rahul as his openers since they both are arguably the most explosive openers Punjab has had in recent history. When on song, both can murder any bowling attack across the globe.
“I will start with Chris Gayle. When his name had come in the auction, no one was picking him. When KXIP picked him at the end, everyone else was laughing. There was some sarcasm in that applause.
But he did well and the universe boss showed that he likes the Mohali pitch and that he can score runs there. In fact, he had an unbelievable first season along with KL Rahul. Perhaps the most explosive opening combination,” Sportskeeda quoted Aakash Chopra as saying.
Mahela Jayawardene to lead the side
At 3 was Australia’s Shaun Marsh, who has had a long term association with the Punjab franchise. He also won the Orange Cap in the inaugural 2008 season of the IPL. Although he lost his touch in the last few years, but the southpaw proved his class by then.
”Everyone will keep Shaun Marsh in their team. His name is absolutely mandatory,” said Aakash Chopra.
Furthermore, Aakash Chopra picked Mahela Jayawardene at 4 followed by David Miller 5. Despite struggling in the last few years, Chopra picked Miller based on his ability to finish matches with his explosive batting.
”I will keep Mahela Jayawardene at No.4. Because he is a terrific batsman and is a very clever T20 player. David Miller did not have a great couple of years because of which they let him go but I will keep him in my side.” added Aakash
He also included superstar Yuvraj Singh in the side, who played about 4 seasons for the Punjab based franchise. His notable performances in the IPL came in the years 2008 and 2009. At 7, 8, and 9, Aakash went with three spinners in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, and Piyush Chawla. The former cricketer went with three spinners since Mohali assists spinners and all of them can hit the ball if necessary.
”I have gone with Piyush Chawla. He played at the beginning with KXIP and did very well. At No.8, I have Axar Patel. At No. 9, I am keeping Ravichandran Ashwin because as a batsman in T20 cricket he has not set the stage on fire”
Aakash Chopra picked two seamers in the form of Praveen Kumar and Sandeep Sharma to wrap up his squad. This came as a shock since many expected him to pick Mohammed Shami in the playing XI due to his current form.
“Praveen Kumar is in my side. I was thinking about Mohammed Shami but the 2-3 years he has been with KXIP, he has been very expensive. Praveen’s numbers are fairly decent.” he added.
Aakash Chopra’s all-time KXIP XI:
Chris Gayle, KL Rahul [wk], Shaun Marsh, Mahela Jayawardene [C], David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Sandeep Sharma