IPL 2020: KXIP Team Preview - Gayle and Maxwell's form, Shami and Mujeeb's effectiveness to determine Punjab's fate
The last time Kings XI Punjab qualified for the IPL playoffs, it was way back in 2014 when they finished as the runners up. That remains only the second time that the team qualified for the knockouts, with the first of the two occasions being in the opening season of the tournament.
In the last couple of seasons, Punjab began well but lost their way at the halfway stage and could never bounce back from there on. Under a new captain in KL Rahul and the stewardship of Anil Kumble, the team will expect to turn their fortunes this year.
Problem of plenty
The biggest issue for Kings XI Punjab is that they have too many options to choose from. Considering that Punjab have had very thin resources in the last couple of years, that is not that bad a place to be in. However, with several options for each role, there is a lot of clutter which can fog the strategy of the side at times.
Gayle or Pooran?
First up is a toss up between Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran. There is little doubt that Gayle is at the last legs of his career. However, his numbers in the IPL have not waned by any stretch of imagination. Last year as well, he scored 419 runs from 13 matches at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 150, building on similar figures in 2018.
In fact, apart from KL Rahul, he was the only batsman who scored consistently for Punjab. After not being part of the CPL, Gayle has not had match practice in months and it would be interesting to see whether the team picks on reputation or gives talented wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran an opportunity in the middle order, who can be a game changer in his own right.
KL to keep?
If Pooran does not play - he is not expected to be in Punjab's starting XI, KL Rahul will have to keep the wickets. It will be additional responsibility on the newly-appointed skipper, who has captained in just one game at a decent level.
The Maxwell quandary
Maxwell has been a big disappointment in the IPL, but the only time he looked at his best was the last time when a part of the IPL was played in the UAE where he scored 300 runs from five matches at an average of 60 and a strike rate of 200+. If he does not perform in the first couple of games, his place can be under threat.
In Mayank Agrawal, Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan, Kings XI Punjab have a good set of Indian batsmen, all three of whom are in form. Krishnappa Gowtham is also a good pick for KXIP, who provides a lot of value in all the three departments.
Mujeeb and Shami - KXIP's strike bowlers
Mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is a must-have in the side and was in terrific form in the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League. Ishan Porel will assist Mohammed Shami to form the KXIP pace battery.
The team has room for only one of Sheldon Cottrell or Chris Jordan. This means that dynamic all-rounder Jimmy Neesham may have to sit out for the majority of the tournament.
Probable Starting XI
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) - KL Rahul (c & wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sheldon Cottrell/Chris Jordan, Mohammad Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ishan Porel.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) - Lokesh Rahul, Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell, Krishnappa Gowtham, Karun Nair, Mohammed Shami, Nicholas Pooran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Jordan, Chris Gayle, Ravi Bishnoi, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Hardus Viljoen, Prabhsimran Singh, Deepak Hooda, Jimmy Neesham, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Harpreet Brar, Jagadeesha Suchith, Murugan Ashwin, Tajinder Singh, Ishan Porel
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