IPL news: Kings XI Punjab set to retain R. Ashwin

“Ashwin is an integral part of the team and he will continue to remain so,” says Kings XI co-owner Ness Wadia.

R. Ashwin served as the Kings XI Punjab captain last season.   -  K. V. S. Giri

R. Ashwin is set to stay back at Kings XI Punjab, the franchise’s co-owner Ness Wadia has confirmed.

For the last couple of months, speculations were rife that the India spin ace, who had led the side last season, may be ‘traded’ to Delhi Capitals. But Wadia has denied this possibility. “Ashwin is an integral part of the team and he will continue to remain so. You know the value Ashwin brings to the team,” Wadia told Sportstar.

“There is no question of letting him go,” he added.

With Kings XI having show indications of parting ways with the 33-year-old off-spinner, Delhi Capitals had shown considerable interest in bringing him on board. Sourav Ganguly, Capitals’ advisor and former India captain, had even come out in the open, saying that it would be “good to get” Ashwin.

‘An asset’

But Wadia is happy to retain the “exceptional player.”

“We have seen what [impact] Ashwin has in the Indian team. He is an exceptional player and is not only an asset for the Indian team, but also for Kings XI Punjab,” Wadia said. The window for trading players closes on November 14.

Kings XI has also roped in Anil Kumble, the former India captain and head coach, as its director of cricket operations. Kumble will also work as the head coach.

Star-studded coaching staff

Kumble, previously associated with some of the other IPL franchises, will be working with a star-studded coaching staff. While former Australia captain George Bailey will be the batting coach, India spinner Sunil Joshi has been roped in as the assistant coach. And if all things fall in place, former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes is set to take charge as the fielding coach.

Rhodes had earlier applied for the role of the fielding coach for the Indian national team, but failed to make the cut.

This will also be Kumble’s return to mainstream coaching after having stepped down from his role as India coach. “Kumble has worked with two franchises in the past and is record has been phenomenal. He brings the Indian-ness to the team and I am sure he will do well,” Wadia said.

The co-owner also admitted that with Kumble around, Kings XI’s Indian players will be able to communicate better. “He understands the Indian mindset and can bond pretty well with all the players. I am sure he will inspire the whole team,” Wadia said.

The franchise will also take a call on the strategy and pick a captain after consulting Kumble. “He has just taken over and all the cricketing decisions will eventually be taken by him,” Wadia said.

For the last couple of years, there have been talks of Kings XI shifting out of Mohali. But Wadia insisted that there was no such plan for the moment.