IPL 2018: Team Preview - Kings XI Punjab

Chris Gayle needs to prove himself in IPL 2018
©Reuters
 

Having had three largely disappointing seasons with the same squad, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have given a completely new look to their squad with just Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma and Marcus Stoinis being the familiar faces from last season.

In Ravichandran Ashwin, they have a new captain and more importantly, a captain who isn’t shy of trying new things out. In a bid to revive his own limited overs international career, Ashwin has resorted to bowling leg spin and one might get to see that during this IPL. While he might not have a great deal of captaincy experience, he is certainly regarded as one of the most thinking cricketers going around.

The batting is expected to be led by Aaron Finch and KL Rahul with David Miller, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh and Marcus Stoinis making up the rest of the batting. Agarwal, in particular, would be looking to continue his prolific form, having scored more than 2000 runs across all formats in the domestic season. An IPL average of 17.69 does not look impressive for a player who is on the fringes of a national call up and he will certainly be looking to improve on those numbers.

Yuvraj Singh, on the other hand, returns to his hometown and will be looking to make a few headlines as he enters the twilight of his career. The Australian duo of Finch and Stoinis have been good form in limited overs cricket and that makes the batting look formidable.

The bowling is expected to be led by Andrew Tye who made his IPL debut last season with a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul. Barinder Sran, Mohit, Axar and Ashwin are expected to form the rest of the attack. While there is no doubting the credentials of Tye, the rest of the pace attack will certainly need to pull off special performances if they are to turn the fortunes of the team around.

Big West Indian Chris Gayle was also purchased in the auction, almost as an afterthought, and may not be an automatic choice for the first XI. Afghanistan’s teenage sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman is also in the squad and it will be interesting to see if he gets a game.

The first impression one gets by looking at the Punjab squad is that their fast bowling looks a little weak on paper. That might well be a deciding factor for them when it comes to making it to the playoffs!

Probable best XI – KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Mohit Sharma, AJ Tye, Barinder Sran

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