Preity Zinta’s co-owned Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have named their captain for the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The KXIP franchise made the announcement on Monday through a Facebook live with team director and mentor Virender Sehwag spilling the beans.
Ravichandran Ashwin will lead Kings XI Punjab in the eleventh season of the IPL. The 31-year-old off-spinner was picked up for INR 7.60 crores in the 2018 auction and had emerged as a leading candidate for captaincy despite never having led in the IPL before.
Addressing the audience, Sehwag admitted that a number of fans and followers felt that Yuvraj Singh would be the right choice but he felt that Ashwin would be better suited to don the captain’s hat. “I always thought that a bowler should always be the captain. I was a huge fan of Wasim Akram, Kapil Dev, Waqar Younis… they were all great bowlers and went on to lead their teams successfully. I hope Ashwin will do the same and help us reach the qualifying stages and the final,” the former India opener said.
In the ten IPL seasons, Kings XI Punjab is the only franchise besides Delhi Daredevils to have played every single edition without lifting the coveted trophy. They did make it to the final once in 2014 but lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
“The best quality of Ashwin is that he knows the format extremely well. He has bowled in the powerplays, bowled in slog overs etc. I feel it’s the right choice as a bowler knows best when to switch bowlers during the course of a game,” Sehwag added.
Ashwin hasn’t represented India in the shortest format since July 2017 and might want to use the cash-rich league as a platform to bounce back to form. “I feel honoured to be trusted with the responsibility of leading such a talented bunch of cricketers,” said Ashwin.
“I am confident of bringing out the best out of teammates. This is indeed a proud moment for me. There is no additional pressure on me as such. I first led my stateside in first-class cricket when I was 21. I have done it in the past and I am sure that I will enjoy the challenge.”
In 111 IPL matches so far, Ashwin has 100 wickets to his name at an average of 24.99 and a modest economy rate of 6.55.
Ashwin also went on to explain that Yuvraj Singh will play a crucial role in his squad given that the Indian veteran brings a lot of experience to the table besides his all-round abilities. “For me it’s all about Yuvi paa going out there and entertaining the fans. As I told you, it’s important that we play an impressive brand of cricket,” Ashwin further added.
“As far as I’m concerned, I would love to see him hit freely and hit those big shots. I’m willing to give him as many overs as possible and feel he’ll be one of the best batsmen of our side. He’s led Kings XI Punjab before and will be the first person I go to if I need any sort of advice on the field.”