In the past decade of the Indian Premier League, one team that has consistently fallen short of realising its potential, by varying degrees, is Kings XI Punjab.
This year, for a change, the team will be headed by a bowler — R. Ashwin. The off-spinner leads a team that has some very exciting batsmen at the top, options in the experienced middle-order, a clutch of good fast bowlers and an adequate choice of spinners.
The team is spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the openers. Chris Gayle, K. L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch and Karun Nair offer plenty of combinations to Ashwin, team mentor Virender Sehwag and coach Brad Hodge.
The middle-order displays rich experience with Yuvraj Singh, David Miller and Manoj Tiwary ready to play the role expected of them.
The new-ball attack will be spearheaded by Andrew Tye. Left-armers Ben Dwarshuis and Barinder Sran along with the right-arm duo of Mohit Sharma and Ankit Rajpoot complete the list.
Among the spinners, apart from the off-spin of Ashwin, left-arm spinners Axar Patel, Mayank Dagar and leg-spinner Pradeep Sahu form the choices. With Ashwin sure of being in the playing XI, off-spinners Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman and Jammu & Kashmir’s Manzoor Dar do not stand much of a chance to make an impact.
On the downside, the team is without a specialist wicketkeeper. Given the gruelling schedule, where a team may play a maximum of 17 matches, either Rahul or Finch could be the makeshift wicketkeeper. Indeed, it’s a poor reflection of the franchisee’s planning at the time of auction.
Overall, the team has a good mix of experience, exuberance of youth and a dash of flamboyance. Undoubtedly, this team is capable of going all the way.
R. Ashwin (captain), K. L. Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcos Stoinis, Manoj Tiwary, Andrew Tye, Ben Dwarshuis, MohitSharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Barinder Sran, Axar Patel, Pradeep Sahu, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Akshdeep Nath, Mayank Dagar and Manzoor Dar.
Player to Watch
Chris Gayle: After going unsold twice before being bought at his base price of Rs.2 crore, the 38-year-old Jamaican must be raring to go. Nursing a bruised pride, the dashing opener can be expected to come hard at the bowlers and reproduce the magic that made him the mascot of T20 cricket.
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