Kings XI Punjab have been a relatively unsuccessful side in the Indian Premier League and have failed to pack a punch consistently over the years.
Starting on a bright note in season one and making it to the semis, Punjab has become a side that shows glimpses of brilliance, that are often overshadowed by mediocre performances. In the entire IPL history, this team has just managed to play the finals once (2014), and finished in the bottom half of the points table on eight occasions.
Despite having stalwarts like Virender Sehwag, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Adam Gilchrist in their ranks in the previous editions, team never managed to achieve greatness. Come 2018, it could be a turning point in the fortunes of Team Punjab as in the IPL auctions, they got some solid buys.
The Punjab team boasts of having some of the most destructive batsmen in their team, be it Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch or Yuvraj Singh. Batting, in the presence of these dashers, certainly looks a strong point for them. One must not forget South African David Miller, who holds a vital position in the middle-order of the team. On good batting tracks, scoring in excess of 180 will be a cakewalk for them. Almost all the batsmen in the Kings XI have a point to prove, either for making a comeback in the respective national side, or to silence the critics. This could just propel them to do even better.
By the looks of it, Kings XI seem to possess a good pool of bowlers who can control the run-flow against quality opposition. Axar Patel, who was retained by the team, has an economy of 7.42 in the tournament. If that’s not good enough, skipper R Ashwin has an economy of 6.55. These two could be well supported by Australian pacer Andrew Tye, who could be a good wicket-taking option, and the one who doesn’t leak too many runs.
When you have a close look at the squad, most of the members of the team can pick up the bat, or roll their arms over, whenever the situation demands. Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin—you name it, and they have it. These are the type of players that are the most crucial in the T20 format.
It’s going to be tough call between Akshdeep Nath and KL Rahul. The former is recognized keeper-batsman but does not have proven credentials in the format. Whereas Rahul is guilty of making more than a few misses behind the stumps for RCB. But having said that, if the team management has been brave enough to just pick Nath as a specialized keeper, then they should give him the keeping responsibility in the first few games at least.
Weak Pace Attack:
It’s a relatively inexperienced pace-bowling attack for Punjab. They do have the likes of Andrew Tye in their team, but the main problem arises—if there is anyone who can support him and take the responsibility of taking wickets from the other end. Mohit Sharma, another pacer has the experience, but it remains to be seen if he can still trouble world-class batsmen. Same applies to youngster Barinder Sran who has been plagued by injuries in the past.
Chris Gayle: An ageing Gayle might not appear as a threat to many teams, but clearly Punjab management had enough faith in the Jamaican to buy him, when no one was interested in bidding for him. He got a hundred in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers too, which just shows he can still wreck havoc on the bowlers. With his ability, just one big innings is required to change the fortunes of the team.
2018 PREDICTION: WILL STRUGGLE TO MAKE IT TO TOP-4
Even though they have some big names in their team, they will have to play out of their skins too really make a mark in the tournament. This looks like a team that can only thrive on individual brilliance. Kings XI Punjab could once again find themselves in the bottom half of the table.
Credit: Arjit Dabas @Cricketnext