IPL 2019: Best candidate to captain Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab have mostly been in the bottom half of the points table in the Indian Premier League (IPL) except in 2014, which was their dream season so far.
The George Bailey-led Punjab side had an unforgettable IPL in 2014. Kings XI were the table toppers in that season but unfortunately lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the finals and had to settle for the runner-up trophy.
But after 2014, Punjab have never been able to qualify for the playoffs till date. Ravichandran Ashwin, who captained the side last season looked promising in the first half but the team completely flipped thereafter and finished 7th in the points table by the end.
After another dismal season, they might be in search for a new leader. KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques and Mandeep Singh are some of the possible options available to them.
Nair previously captained the Delhi side in the 2017 season but wasn't effective at all. The appointment of KL Rahul as captain will add more pressure on him as he was their top performer with the bat in the previous season.
Moises Henriques is an experienced campaigner as a captain and has led the Sydney Sixers side in the Big Bash League (BBL) along with New South Wales, but recent trends suggest in appointing an Indian player as the captain.
KXIP had a terrible performance by the middle-order last year and hence, local boy Mandeep Singh will definitely be in the playing eleven. Mandeep ticks all the boxes and has the skills of a leader, and therefore, would be an ideal choice for captaincy.
He is the captain of the Punjab Ranji Trophy side and has shown that he has all the qualities of a leader. Mandeep had also been the vice-captain of the India Under-19 team for the 2010 World Cup.
He resembles George Bailey in his style of play and could be a very good choice for the franchise as their skipper. Both are middle-order batsman and can adapt according to the situation, and this might bring some change in Punjab's fortunes.
Mandeep had a great season in 2012 while playing for KXIP. He scored 432 runs from 16 matches that included two fifties and was the leading run scorer for them in that season. He was adjudged as the 'Emerging Player of the Year' for his performances as well.
After that, he was traded to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2015 and had been in their playing eleven most of the time. The experience of playing under Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers could prove vital in captaining the side as well.
Mandeep has played a number of good knocks for RCB in the past seasons and has the quality to keep the scoreboard moving as well as finish games. The 27-year-old hard-hitting Jalandhar born batsman will be the player to watch out for in the Punjab side next season.
So far, he has managed to score 2677 runs across 122 innings in T20s with an average of 26 and strike rate of 125 including 11 fifty plus scores with a highest score of 84*.
Mandeep has also played 3 T20Is for India against Zimbabwe in 2016, where he scored 87 runs in 3 innings with an average of 43.5 with 52* being his highest.
He was traded in from RCB in exchange of Marcus Stoinis before the 2019 IPL auction. Singh has always been consistent at junior levels and in the domestic circuit and could very well play a pivotal role for KXIP next season as he knows the home conditions well and hence could be the best choice for leading their side.