IPL 2018: Kings XI Punjab hope to finally find winning formula
Kings XI Punjab’s Indian Premier League (IPL) history is peppered with instances of chopping and changing at every available juncture but still the best they have come up is a runners-up finish in the 2014 edition.cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2018 16:38 IST
Even after a decade in Indian Premier League, Kings XI Punjab is searching for that winning formula. That, in a nutshell, is Kings XI Punjab’s story in the IPL. And though Royal Challengers Bangalore have suffered a similar fate, Virat Kohli’s team has a better overall record. Kings XI have changed captains more than most other franchises. Their history is peppered with instances of chopping and changing at every available juncture but still the best they have come up is a runners-up finish in the 2014 edition.
In 2017, they had finished fifth. At the auction this year, Kings XI Punjab carried the biggest purse and added some formidable players with proven track records. Big hitters Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle were notched up at base price while they did break the bank for KL Rahul who is yet to cement his place in India’s limited overs teams. Somehow, the team missed out on buying a specialist wicketkeeper. Hence they are now left with two options —going in with greenhorn Akshdeep Nath or back Rahul, who has kept wickets occasionally. They have chosen an untested skipper in R Ashwin who is one of the more thinking cricketers around. With a completely refurbished team, Kings XI Punjab will hope for better results and certainly the title.
Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Akshdeep Nath, Mayank Agarwal, Mayank Dagar, Ben Dwarshuis, Aaron Finch, Manzoor Dar, David Miller, Mujeeb Zadran, Karun Nair, Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ankit Rajpoot, Pradeep Sahu, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Marcus Stoinis, Manoj Tiwary, Andrew Tye, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle.
Head coach: Brad Hodge; Assistant coach: Mithun Manhas; Bowling coach: Venkatesh Prasad; Fielding coach: Nishanta Bordoloi; Strength & conditioning coach: Nishant Thakur; Technical coach: Shayamal Vallabhjee; Video analyst: Ashish Tuli; Physio: Amit Tyagi.
FIVE OVERSEAS PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
An aggressive batsman, he has a proven track record in IPL. Last year, with Gujarat Lions, Finch had a decent outing with couple of fifties. He scored 299 runs in 13 matches at a strike rate of 166. Finch however is set miss at least the first game due to his wedding.
Possibly the most exciting buy of the season. At 17, he has certainly shown talent with his off-spin, mixing the occasional googly and leg-spin to keep the batsman on toes. His form during the ICC World Cup Qualifier will surely boost his confidence ahead of debut in Indian Premier League.
After a subdued 2017 IPL, Miller will be keen to jump on the run bandwagon for KXIP. Indifferent form and some questionable tactics saw the South African southpaw feature in just five matches, scoring 83 runs. His current form hasn’t been good but has enough experience to turn things around.
Is likely to be the bowling mainstay for the side. He will have to lead the pace attack marshalling the likes of Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot and Brainder Sran. The good news is that he is in form and last year finished with 12 wickets in six matches in IPL. International form has been good too as he snared 10 wickets last five T20I outings.
An all-rounder, Stoinis found form with KXIP in 2016 edition. He scored 146 runs in seven matches, snaring eight wickets. Will be keen to put a horrible 2017 IPL season behind wherein in five outings he scored just 17 and took two wickets.
FIVE INDIAN PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Untested as a leader and fighting to get back into the limited overs team, Ashwin has his work cut out this IPL season. Add to it his talks of bowling leg-spin, Ashwin perhaps is thinking too much. He missed the 2017 edition, but no one can doubt his IPL stats having 100 wickets in 108 matches.
An all-rounder, Patel and Ashwin can form a formidable spin pairing which can prove match-winning for KXIP. Last year, he scored 227 runs in 14 matches and took 15 wickets to emerge as a star player for the side and was the only player retained by the team. With Mujeeb Zadran also in the squad, the spin department looks all set for Kings XI Punjab.
A shoulder injury kept him out of 2017 IPL edition. With KXIP he is likely to be the first choice keeper an additional responsibility, even though he can make a cut with batting alone. Numbers back Rahul. The 2016 edition saw him score 397 at a strike rate of 146.
In good form in domestic season lately, Manoj did well for the Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017 edition. He scored 324 runs in 15 outings at decent strike rate of 137. With 93 IPL matches under his belt, he can be a vital cog for the side.
In the list for sentimental reasons — the home boy returns to find a way into national reckoning again. You can ignore him at your own peril but at 36, the ageing veteran is facing an uphill battle. Maybe a familiar surroundings and ground might stir up the giant who is a veteran of 120 IPL matches.