IPL 2019: Will the Kings XI Punjab rule the league this year?
Kings XI Punjab had a very strong start in the 2018 IPL season. However, they started losing games at the crucial juncture of the tournament, which cost them a berth in the playoffs.
It is said that too many cooks spoil the stock. Punjab had former cricketers like Virender Sehwag, Brade Hodge and Venkatesh Prasad in their coaching staff. Everybody, including their captain Ravichandran Ashwin had different opinions, which affected the team combination. This was thought to be the reason behind their losses, which resulted in them finishing at the seventh position on the points table.
For the IPL 2019 season they have Mike Hesson as their head coach, who had a fine tenure with the New Zealand cricket team. Further, they have Sridharan Sriram and Ryan Harris as their batting and bowling coaches respectively.
In batting, they already had Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and David Miller. This season they have added Sarfaraz Khan and Nicholas Pooran. Punjab would wish that Gayle and Miller carry on their form from the series against England and Sri Lanka respectively.
For their middle order, they traded Mandeep Singh from Royal Challengers Bangalore in exchange of Marcus Stoinis. Moreover, they bought Moises Henriques and Sam Curran in this year’s IPL auction.
The benefit of having Mandeep is that he plays frequently at Mohali. Besides, he can be used as the sixth bowling option along with Gayle.
In bowling they have got lots of options, experienced as well as inexperienced. If we consider experience, then they have Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot and Mohammed Shami. In the back-up department, which lacks experience, they have added Murugan Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande and Agnivesh Ayachi.
Shami might not play all the games as he is in the World Cup probables, due to which his workload will have to be managed. Besides, he is also facing family issues, which might keep him away from the game.
Therefore, a lot will depend on how Ashwin, Mujeeb and Tye bowl. To make it easier for the bowlers, their hitters will have to consistently put up big totals on the board.
The probable playing XI could read like this: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, R Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami and Ankit Rajpoot.
The playing XI on paper looks balanced. However, this team may find itself in trouble when someone like Gayle or Shami is rested. In that case, their fortunes will depend on how the young and inexperienced bowlers perform.