The best-balanced sides in the Indian Premier League eventually end up winning the title. Mumbai Indians have always stuck to their core and that’s a significant reason why they’ve won the IPL the most number of times. Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, have featured in the top four only twice. The inaugural edition where they were humbled by the Chennai Super Kings and in 2014 where the Kings XI finished second best in the finals against Kolkata Knight Riders. The year 2018 though brings positive conjecture on the horizon for the Kings XI. After spending a total of Rs. 79.9 crores, the team looks finely balanced. Can the Kings XI finally add a trophy to a rather empty cabinet? Who will feature in KXIP probable starting 11?
KXIP AT THE AUCTIONS
KXIP decided to retain all-rounder Axar Patel for a whopping Rs. 12.5 crores. The Gujarat born all-rounder has been a consistent performer for them ever since he made his debut in the year 2014. While the decision seemed to be a surprise for a few cricketing fanatics, Patel’s retention is certainly a vehement call.
KL Rahul was KXIP’s most expensive purchase in the auctions this year. The stylish right-handed batsman was bought for a gargantuan Rs. 11 crores. Rahul was injured the whole of last season and the Royal Challengers felt his absence immensely. Rahul has all the traits to match the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in terms of strokeplay. How he manages to deal with his temperament will be his big test.
Andrew Tye, the Aussie pacer was acquired for Rs. 7,20,00,000. The former Gujarat Lions pacer will now sport the KXIP jersey. Tye has the unique record of picking 3 hat-tricks in T20s. Only Amit Mishra matches his tally.
THE RIGHT TO MATCH CARD
The right to match card was used thrice by the KXIP owners at the auctions. Marcus Stoinis was retained for Rs. 6,20,00,000. David Miller for 3 crores and the last RTM card was used for Mohit Sharma, who was acquired for Rs. 2,40,00,000.
A NEW LEADER
The “Who will lead KXIP”? conundrum has finally been put to bed this season. Ravichandran Ashwin was appointed the skipper for the year 2018. Ashwin has always been an ardent student of the game and with the constant backing of Yuvraj Singh, the onus will be on R Ashwin to lead his side to a first title victory. Ashwin cost the KXIP a decent Rs. 7,60,00,000.
THE AUSSIE TREBLE
Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch form a treble that are certain to feature in the starting 11 for KXIP. The inclusion of Australian cricketers was easy to forecast with Brad Hodge taking the coaching responsibilities. The 3 foreign players cost the KXIP a total of Rs. 19.6 crores. But, can they turn a rather docile KXIP tide to a massive wave?
TEAM COMBINATION FOR KXIP
OPENERS AND NUMBER 3
KL Rahul and Aaron Finch are the favourites to open the innings for the Kings XI Punjab. In addition, they also have the likes of Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal who can give that white cherry a hefty tonk.
Mayank Agarwal has been scoring runs for fun this season in domestic cricket. Agarwal scored 2141 runs for the year 2017/18; the most runs scored by an Indian player in a domestic season. Agarwal amassed the domestic season with 1160 FC runs, 723 List-A runs and 258 T20 runs. He will take the number 3 spot.
Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel complete the middle order. Yuvraj Singh hasn’t played much cricket recently and it’ll be his responsibility to take his team through in tricky conditions. Miller can be handed the role of the plunderer.
R Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran complete a formidable looking KXIP.
Axar Patel, KL Rahul, R Ashwin(c), Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Aaron Finch, Mujeeb Zadran, Karun Nair, Ankit Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary, Pradeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Das.
KXIP PROBABLE STARTING 11
KL Rahul, Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran/Ankit Rajpoot.
For a preview on MI’s probable starting 11 click here.