Monday 8 March 2010 

IPL 2010 Preview - Kings XI Punjab

IPL 2010 Preview - Kings XI Punjab
IPL 2010 Preview - Kings XI Punjab
 

Team Owner: Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Karan Paul, Mohit Burman

Kings XI Punjab is owned and promoted by a consortium which includes leading Bollywood actress Preity Zinta and well known industrialists Ness Wadia and others. They are the self-proclaimed people’s team in the IPL with a vision of being the most significant, progressive and valuable franchise in the years to come.

Preity Zinta is a well renowned Indian film actress and as a co-owner, she is responsible for actively promoting the franchise and its team. A leader, visionary and perfectionist, Ness Wadia is the joint managing director of the Bombay Dyeing Pvt. Ltd., the flagship company of the Wadia Group. Mohit Burman, Director, Dabur India is the driving force behind the Dabur Group’s foray into several high growth and sunrise sectors of financial services like life insurance, annuities and asset management, besides agriculture and retailing. Karan Paul is the chairman of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, which is worth Rs.4500 crores, and looks after the financial planning of the franchise.

The group of businessmen together paid a total of USD 76 million to acquire the franchise in 2007.

Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (captain & wicket-keeper), Yusuf Abdulla, Love Ablish, Adrian Barath, Manvinder Bisla, Ravi Bopara, Piyush Chawla, Karan Goel, James Hopes, Mahela Jayawardene, Mohammad Kaif, Brett Lee, Vikramjeet Malik, Shaun Marsh, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Bipul Sharma, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Amanpreet Singh, Yuvraj Singh, S. Sreesanth, Shalabh Srivastava, Tanmay Srivastava.

Coach: Tom Moody

A player of international stature, Tom Moody was instrumental in Australia’s triumph in the 1999 World Cup. Moody was a medium pace swing bowler, a hard hitting batsman, a safe slip fielder and a natural leader during his playing days. He and Steve Waugh together became the first two Australians to win the world cup twice. Moody’s greatest service has been to Worcestershire and Western Australia leading both to all kinds of success. He called time on his international career in 2000-01. Moody came close to being India’s coach in May 2005 only to be piped to the post by Greg Chappell. That same year he was appointed Sri Lanka’s coach. He then led the Lankan team to the World Cup final in April 2007.

2009 Record: Fifth
2008 Record: Semi-Finalist

Comparing the two results, it would be easy to say that 2009 was a step down for this team. But if you saw them perform both at home and in South Africa, it would be easier to tell the difference and say that both results were indeed merited by their respective performances. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to even say that they probably over-achieved in 2008.
They had gotten off to a slow start in the tournament then, but recovered and learnt quickly from their mistakes to string together a winning combination. Shaun Marsh was the find of the season, finishing with highest runs scored (616) with an average of 68.44 and a strike rate of 139.68 in eleven innings. The other highlight was the Harbhajan Singh-Sreesanth saga, wherein the former slapped the latter for some on-field trouble and both players were duly banned. Apart from that, they made news winning nine of their last ten games but still went down by nine wickets in the semis to Chennai.
Seven wins and seven losses in 2009 meant that they couldn’t really go on a run like the first season and build up some momentum which could take them to the semis. Their star players shone for them but they missed key players, Sreesanth, Marsh and Lee at crucial junctures. In the end, it was a close run thing as they lost out on a last-four berth on run-rate.

Strengths & Weaknesses:

One of the biggest debating points for the team was the captaincy of Yuvraj Singh. Amongst the eight franchises, probably this was the only team wherein the skipper wasn’t actually in the scheme of things to lead his county. Seen from a different point of view, that is a weakness for captaincy is an art just like batting or bowling, and you need to practice that a bit as well.

This year Kumar Sangakkara takes over the reigns making it the fifth team in the fray to have a foreign player as captain. For the point discussed above, this is a very good thing. They will have some one with experience in T20 cricket as to how to lead the troops on the field when push comes to shove.

Also as compared to the last season, when they had to make do for long without their foreign players, this time quite a few of them will be available plus injury concerns seem not to be an issue either. A full squad for a competition this long is always desirable and the owners’ prayers seem to have been answered for once.

They haven’t made any big purchases in the off-season but a low key one - that of Mohammad Kaif and he alone is the reason for cheer. As a T20 player, Kaif won’t find many takers but the players who know him will tell that he is a complete player. One feels that Rajasthan Royals made a mistake letting him go in South Africa last year just as they have done this year and their loss will be Punjab’s gain. He will play the anchor role in the middle order which is fast becoming increasingly important in T20 cricket as well and will allow the batsmen around him to play shots at will. His inclusion will also mean that the combination of four foreign players to be chosen can be tinkered around with as per the requirements. Any team that affords this sort of balance is a fantastic prospect.

Player to watch out for: Yuvraj Singh

Although Mohammad Kaif is the one providing all the balance, T20 cricket needs more firepower than any other format, for a team to excel. And that firepower comes to the table in the form of Yuvraj Singh more than anybody else. As captain his style was stiffened somewhat because of the pressure to perform as well as lead the side. But now that responsibility is gone and one can almost see the line of thinking that the management owned up with this move.

A free-minded Yuvraj is a terrifying prospect especially in T20 cricket. Sample this: in the last two seasons, he has averaged a below par 28.35 with a strike rate of 140.25. Compare that to international T20 cricket, he averages 37.00 – that’s ten more runs per innings and at a better strike rate of 165.29. His bowling showed no ill effects of leading the side though as he picked up a hat-trick in South Africa last year. Imagine what he can do for Kings XI with a similar yield with the bat.

Chetan Narula
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