IPL 2020: Kings XI Punjab | Key players, strengths, weaknesses, and probable XI
- Can KXIP go the distance this year or reach the playoffs again?
One of the three teams yet to win the title, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have perennially underperformed in the IPL, with just 1 semifinal and 1 final appearance in 12 seasons. Having tried 13 captains in 12 seasons so far, they have a new skipper (KL Rahul) for this season as well. The squad this year has a more balanced and settled look as compared to the last couple of years. The Kings will look to maintain the momentum throughout the tournament, unlike the last two years when they dominated the first half but were terrible in the second half of the tournament and could not reach the playoffs.
With Anil Kumble coming in as coach and the change in leadership with Rahul leading the side, KXIP will be hoping for a change in fortunes. They will be looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014, when they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final.
KL Rahul (C), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, M Ashwin, J Suchith, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh.
Kings XI Punjab have a well-balanced squad with most bases covered. The finishing seems to be in safe hands for KXIP. Sarfaraz Khan’s terrific form also augurs well for the side and with Pooran, Maxwell, Neesham, and Sarfaraz, KXIP have a very potent middle order. Not to forget, they have KL Rahul at the top, who is in the form of his life.
Also see – RCB Team
The options they have for batting in the top three include KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal. Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda and Krishnappa Gowtham can bat at six or seven and any one among Maxwell or Pooran can be promoted to three. The flexibility and the quality which this squad has is their biggest strength.
KXIP traded R Ashwin to Delhi Capitals during the transfer window, consequently the spin department now lacks experience, despite having enough quality and variety. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ravi Bishnoi, K Gowtham, and J Suchith will be handling the spin department, with Maxwell and Hooda chipping in as part-timers. The inexperience is something that other teams might take advantage of. However, with Kumble as the coach, this disadvantage is not likely to haunt them much.
Death bowling has been the Achilles' heel for KXIP for a long time and it is no different this time. Chris Jordan is the only dependable death bowler in the side. Mohammed Shami has been hot and cold in the death overs so far and other Indian pacers in the squad lack experience. In case Shami gets injured, they will have a huge headache in filling up his shoes as all the back-ups are relatively new to this stage.
Players to watch out for
KL Rahul – The newly appointed comes into the tournament after having a terrific year with the bat. KXIP’s top scorer in the last two seasons, Rahul will be the batting mainstay yet again. With a more reliable middle-order this time, the skipper will look to play to his strength, by taking the attack to the opposition right from the start. If Rahul continues his purple patch this season, and if he gets some support unlike last season, then this team can be strong contender for the playoffs.
Glenn Maxwell – The only time KXIP reached the finals of the IPL, Glenn Maxwell was the major architect. After a season with Delhi and a year of skipping the IPL, Maxwell is back again with KXIP. As evident from the last two seasons, KXIP’s poor middle-order not being able to capitalize on the platform set by the openers cost them numerous games. However, with an in-form Maxwell in the side, the middle-order now boasts a formidable look. The much-needed finishing role now lies in the safe hands of Maxwell. The Aussie all-rounder is also a more than handy off-spinner who is known for giving crucial breakthroughs. KXIP will be hoping Maxwell to repeat his form of the 2014 season.
Chris Jordan – The limited overs specialist from England might prove to be the answer to KXIP’s death bowling issues. Jordan has been brilliant at the death with his variations and accuracy. His experience of playing in T20 leagues around the globe makes him a more valuable asset to the team. Poor death bowling cost KXIP many crucial games last season, but if Jordan performs to his potential, KXIP might be able to close out crunch games.
KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair/ Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Deepak Hooda/ Krishnappa Gowtham, Ravi Bishnoi, Chris Jordan, Ishan Porel, Mohammed Shami
The Punjab-based franchise start as dark horses this time. If Rahul continues his purple patch with the bat and gets support from others, there is no reason why KXIP can not make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
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Published 12 Mar 2020, 22:23 IST