Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have had a rather bizarre run in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Their performance has always been one of two extremes. Following an impressive show in the inaugural edition in 2008, they made it to the semi-final of the then-newly-formed tournament. KXIP also ended up as finalists in 2014, narrowly missing out on their maiden crown.
That aside, it has been all downhill for the franchise. They have finished in the bottom half in all the other editions of the IPL. In fact, they have finished last on three occasions -- 2010, 2015 and again in 2016. Under the fresh leadership of KL Rahul and guidance of coach Anil Kumble, KXIP will be keen to change the franchise’s fortunes.
For this year’s edition, Punjab have a few players who can consistently make it to Fantasy Dream teams. We pick three favourites.
1. Glenn Maxwell
The last time the IPL was (partly) held in the UAE, Glenn Maxwell had a blast. He smashed 552 runs for KXIP with four fifties, twice hitting 95 from 43 balls -- once against Chennai Super Kings and once against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Maxwell could not come up with a repeat in any of the subsequent editions. In fact, in the 2018 season, he had a torrid run for Delhi Daredevils, putting together just 169 runs in 12 games. After skipping IPL 2019, he is now back in the KXIP fold this season.
The Big Show’s attacking instincts are not a secret in world cricket, but if KXIP needed any reassurance, they would have got one as Maxwell hit a ton in a practice game at Southampton as Australia prepared for the England limited-overs contests. If he strikes form, Maxwell could make a massive difference to Punjab’s fortunes.
2. KL Rahul
Appointed KXIP captain for this season, the dashing KL Rahul will have a big responsibility to steer his team through IPL 2020. Before cricket was stopped owing to the coronavirus outbreak, Rahul was in sublime form.
In the T20Is in New Zealand, he was the leading run-scorer with 224 runs at a strike rate of 144.52. Even in the three ODIs that followed, Rahul notched up over 200 runs. However, it is not just his international performance that has got him the KXIP captaincy.
Rahul has done exceedingly well for the franchise in recent seasons. In 2018, he eased his way to 659 runs in 14 games at a strike rate of 158.41 with six fifties, combining exceedingly well with Chris Gayle. Last year, the left-hander continued his excellent form with 593 runs from 14 games. This time, he had a hundred as well to show for his efforts. At the peak of his powers, Rahul and Punjab would want the runs to keep flowing.
3. Chris Gayle
Even at 40 (he will turn 41 during the tournament), it will be difficult for fantasy gamers to ignore him in their Dream11 picks. After going unsold twice in the 2018 auction, Chris Gayle was eventually picked by KXIP for his base price of Rs 2 crore. With his pride at stake, the Universe Boss responded with 368 runs in 11 games at a strike rate of 146.03. An unbeaten century against Sunrisers Hyderabad was the icing on the cake.
And that was not all, Gayle returned last year, scoring 490 runs in 13 games, this time at a strike rate of over 150. No doubt, the left-hander is not the player he used to be in his prime. But, on his day, Gayle can still pack a punch, as India and England found when he pounded them for blazing 70s in ODIs last year. It seems like there is still some fuel left in the tank.Published 08 Sep 2020, 18:38 IST