The 11th edition of Indian Premier League is here and the Kings XI Punjab might have just found that winning formula. Over the last 10 years, Punjab have struggled to find consistency.
IPL 2018: The 11th edition of Indian Premier League is here and the Kings XI Punjab might have just found that winning formula. Over the last 10 years, Punjab have struggled to find consistency. They have changed captains and players more than any other franchises and yet they stand in an oblivion where everything is messy. The best they have done in terms of performance was in 2014 when they topped the league table and went on to pay the final under the captaincy of George Bailey.
This was followed by a couple of disappointing seasons and in order to solve their problem, KXIP co-owner Preity Zinta went on a shopping spree in IPL 2018 auction, bidding for every possible star. The strategy proved successful for the franchise as it ended up buying some excellent T20 players in Aaron Finch, Karun Nair, Andrew Tye, KL Rahul, along with old warhorses like Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh. The best buy, however, for Punjab could be Ravichandran Ashwin, the man who has been given the responsibility of reviving the franchise’s hopes.
Depth in squad:
One of the biggest strengths of Punjab going into IPL 2018 is the depth it has in the squad. They have one of the most destructive T20 openers in Aaron Finch. Since the Australian is set to miss the opening game of the tournament, he will be replaced in the playing XI by Chris Gayle who just needs one good day to earn a couple of points for Punjab. The other two spots in top 3 will be taken up by Karun Nair and KL Rahul, with the latter also likely to keep wickets. The 2016 edition saw him score 397 at a strike rate of 146.
With Yuvraj Singh at number 4 and David Miller at number 5, Kings XI Punjab have one of the best middle-orders in the league. Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis will take up the number 6 slot, acting as a bride between top 5 and bottom 5.
He will be followed by the two Indian spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel who will be a treat to watch bowling in tandem. Both the players are more than capable of changing the course of the match with the bat.
The fast-bowling attack will be led by Andrew Tye who picked up three T20 hat-tricks in 2017, including one in the IPL He would be another player to keep an eye on and could turn out to be a big match-winner for Punjab.
One exciting buy by KXIP was is in the form of Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Zadran. At 17, he has certainly shown talent with his off-spin, mixing the occasional googly and leg-spin to keep the batsman on their toes. His form during the ICC World Cup Qualifier will surely boost his confidence ahead of Indian Premier League but it will be interesting to see how the management finds a place for Mujeeb in the playing XI.
Lack of quality Indian fast-bowlers:
While the batting line-up looks outstanding, the bowling department is a big problem for KXIP. They have Andrew Tye as the spearhead for bowling unit along with Axar Patel and R Ashwin. But, that is it!
Kings XI Punjab failed to buy too many quality Indian fast-bowlers in IPL 2018 auction which can cost them as the tournament progresses. Mohit Sharma has been good in IPL over the years but didn’t have a great domestic season this year. Barinder Sran has had fitness issues which leaves Punjab with Ankit Rajpoot who is too young to shoulder the big responsibility.
This means that Punjab will have to play Stoinis in all the games, forcing one of Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch or David Miller to the bench.
Another issue with Punjab is that they have not bought a replacement for Andrew Tye. So if Tye is injured they do not have a bowler who can actually lead their bowling unit.
Kings XI Punjab schedule and list of matches with venues:
Sunday 8th April 2018
Match 2, 16:00 IST (10:30 GMT), Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi – Delhi Daredevils v Kings XI Punjab
Friday 13th April 2018
Match 8, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru – Royal Challengers Bangalore v Kings XI Punjab
Sunday 15th April 2018
Match 12, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore – Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings
Thursday 19th April 2018
Match 16, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore – Kings XI Punjab v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Saturday 21st April 2018
Match 18, 16:00 IST (10:30 GMT), Eden Gardens, Kolkata – Kolkata Knight Riders v Kings XI Punjab
Monday 23rd April 2018
Match 22, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore – Kings XI Punjab v Delhi Daredevils
Thursday 26th April 2018
Match 25, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Rajiv Gandhi Intl. Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad – Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kings XI Punjab
Friday 4th May 2018
Match 34, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali – Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians
Sunday 6th May 2018
Match 38, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali – Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals
Tuesday 8th May 2018
Match 40, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur – Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab
Saturday 12th May 2018
Match 44, 16:00 IST (10:30 GMT), IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali – Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders
Monday 14th May 2018
Match 48, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali – Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Wednesday 16th May 2018
Match 50, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab
Sunday 20th May 2018
Match 56, 20:00 IST (14:30 GMT), M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai – Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab key players: Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis and KL Rahul
Kings XI Punjab full squad: Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Christopher Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar.