In the recent auctions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), held in December 2019, Kings’ XI Punjab went through wholesale changes in their side. Aaron Finch, Andrew Tye, and Ravichandran Ashwin were the key names to be released before the auctions.
Kings XI Punjab, apart from Delhi Capitals, is the only team without a silverware in their cabinet after the inception of IPL in 2008. The co-owners will look at the upcoming season as an opportunity to overcome the barrier with a brand new roster at their disposal.
Here we look at the strongest XI to take the field from the Kings XI camp:
1.) KL Rahul
Things took a drastic turn for the Karnataka batsman with each injury in the Indian team, paving the way for more responsibilities for Lokesh Rahul. It all looked bleak for Rahul fans last year as the glamorous batsman found it challenging to convert repeated opportunities into runs.
However, it all changed this year for KL Rahul, in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan and then annexing the wicket-keeping role from Rishabh Pant. KXIP franchise yielded significant returns for the big moolahs spent last year with KL Rahul topping the charts for highest runs after David Warner.
With the recent injury to Rohit Sharma, cricket fanatics observed yet another facet for this talented Bengaluru lad, in the form of captaincy. With the exit of Ravichandran Ashwin, Preity Zinta & Co. would hope the ace batsman takes their team across the finish line this time.
2.) Mayank Agarwal
Another premier batsman from Karnataka, who has been in red-hot form in the past couple of years, both in domestic and international cricket, Mayank Agarwal, will be raring to go in this edition of the league. The Indian Test opener looked in decent touch last year but failed to make an impression in the runs tally.
Keeping in mind his purple patch in red-ball cricket, Mayank Agarwal is expected to have a breakthrough season this time around, to display his class in all formats of the game.
3.) Glenn Maxwell
The Kings XI franchise went all out to bring back their old warrior in Glenn Maxwell, who previously had a successful tenure under the same banner. To retain Maxwell, KXIP had to shell out a whopping 10.75 crores, after the Capitals released him this time around.
Maxwell is coming off a decent stint at the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Stars, where he scored 389 runs at a strike rate of above 150.
4.) Nicholas Pooran
The young Calypso brigade impressed one and all in the recent home series in India. Nicholas Pooran’s hitting power and grace was the standout feature in the West Indies campaign.
After displaying a glimpse of his prowess last year in the IPL, Kings XI would hope this is also the breakthrough season for Pooran this time.
5.) Sarfaraz Khan
Sarfaraz Khan was once earmarked as the next big thing in Indian cricket, coming off a successful U19 World Cup in 2016 and the subsequent season of the IPL. However, RCB released him shortly after failing in fitness parameters, and the UP batsman went into obscurity.
The stocky batsman came back with a bang in domestic cricket after scoring a triple and a double century. Kings XI was quick to grab the talented youngster in red-hot form.
This time around, Sarfaraz would have a thing or two to prove and look to make a statement by piling on the runs in the brittle middle-order of the Mohali-based franchise.
6.) Mandeep Singh
Another former KXIP player, retained by the franchise this time around, Mandeep Singh, offers a vast experience to the side in the lower-middle order. Other options available at the slot are Deepak Hooda and Karun Nair, who are currently struggling to find form.
7.) Krishnappa Gowtham
After a successful Karnataka Premier League season in 2017, the 2018 auction was headlined by Karnataka all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham. Rajasthan Royals went all out for the leggie and, after a couple of seasons, decided to release the Bengaluru Blaster.
The last season of KPL was known for an unparalleled feat by Gowtham, where he scored an unbeaten 134 and then went on to take eight wickets in the same match. Gowtham has a big boot to fill in the spinning department with the exit of Ravichandran Ashwin.
8.) Chris Jordan
One of the best death bowlers in the world, Jordan is a gun fielder and handy with the bat. He is expected to get the nod ahead of Sheldon Cottrell. The other all-rounder option in the team would be James Neesham.
9.) Mujeeb Ur Rahman
The mystery spinner in the squad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, has featured in all top T20 Leagues in the world. After an impressive 2018 season, the Afghan was not given many opportunities in the subsequent season.
As a result, one would hope that the skitty wrist-spinner will be given ample opportunity to prove his mettle at the biggest stage.
10.) Mohammed Shami
Under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, Mohammad Shami has flourished as an impact bowler. With the new ball, the batsmen would find it difficult to negotiate with the pace and bounce of Shami at the surface in Mohali.
11.) Ishan Porel
A prosperous India ‘A’ campaign in New Zealand means Ishan Porel will start for the Kings XI with the new ball, along with Shami. Porel also underwent a successful Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign at the fag-end of 2019 for Bengal.