Kings XI Punjb look to reverse horror of two seasons
- For fans of Kings XI Punjab, the 2014 IPL season would seem like a decade ago. Back then, the team was within touching distance of the trophy. Kings XI inexplicably fell off the precipice, finishing last the following season and if things could not get any worse, it did. They were a shambles again in 2016, finishing an embarrassing eighth yet again. Internally, the team was in a mess, with off-field issues and an alleged misunderstanding between the team owners and the head coach overshadowing the actual cricket. A mid-season captaincy change showed that all was far from well. Can things <i>still</i> get any worse? Something’s got to give.
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell was named captain ahead of the season, taking over from M Vijay. This was an indication that the team is looking to begin on a fresh slate. Kings XI released only four players during the December transfer window. They have retained most of their overseas players, and at the auction bought New Zealander Martin Guptill and England’s Eoin Morgan. A Maxwell-Morgan-Miller middle order will be deadly, should they use their overseas quota on the batting alone. They have also boosted their fast-bowling arsenal, getting in Varun Aaron and New Zealand’s Matt Henry. They spent big on getting Tamil Nadu left-arm seamer T Natarajan, whose slower balls and yorkers could come handy at the death. Natarajan is relatively unknown, so he could be their secret weapon.
- The squad’s lacking a quality world-class spinner to partner the left-arm spinner Axar Patel. It could mean Maxwell chipping in with his offspin, or opportunities for domestic players like Swapnil Singh, K.C Cariappa and Rahul Tewatia. Guptill and Vijay are also likely to miss part of the IPL due to injuries. It leaves a vacuum right at the top. The team would need to show more faith in their Indian players if they are to turn their fortunes around.
- Big purchases at the 2017 auction (in INR)
Eoin Morgan (2 crore), T Natarajan (3 crore), Varun Aaron (2.8 crore), Martin Guptill (50 lakh), Matt Henry (50 lakh)
Glenn Maxwell (captain), Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, Varun Aaron, Matt Henry, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh, T Natarajan, Wriddhiman Saha, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Par deep Sahu, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Hashim Amla, Swapnil Singh, M Vijay, Manan Vohra, Mohit Sharma, Gurkeerat Singh, Axar Patel, Nikhil Naik, Shaun Marsh, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer
Coach – J. Arunkumar, Assistant coach – Mithun Manhas, Fielding coach – R. Sridhar
Availability of foreign players
Guptill remains doubtful with a hamstring injury, at least for the start of the tournament. All other foreign players are expected to be available.
Where they finished in 2016
Eighth place. They managed just four wins, and lost ten. Their final match against Rising Pune Supergiant was their chance to avoid finishing last. Kings XI somehow managed to botch that as well, failing to defend 23 in the last over. That game summed up their shambolic season.
Likely XI for the first match
Shaun Marsh (F), Manan Vohra, Gurkeerat Singh, Glenn Maxwell (capt/F), David Miller (F), Wridhiman Saha (wk), Axhar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, KC Cariappa, T Natarajan