Rishad D’Souza picks apart Kings XI Punjab’s prospects for the 2019 IPL season, and tries to figure out if this could be the year they turn promise into results.
Kings XI Punjab profile
Captain: Ravichandran Ashwin
Home ground: IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
Owners: Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Karan Paul, Mohit Burman
Past results: 2018: 7th; 2017: 5th; 2016: 8th; 2015: 8th; 2014: Finalists; 2013: 6th; 2012: 6th; 2011: 5th; 2010: 8th; 2009: 5th; 2008: Semi-final (third place)
IPL titles: None
Chak de Phatte!🙌
With new additions, #SaddaSquad just got more special!
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) December 19, 2018
Kings XI Punjab have a middling record in the Indian Premier League. They haven’t laid their hands on the coveted trophy once, coming closest in 2014, when they lost a tense final to Kolkata Knight Riders.
The team have almost always been patchy in their performances, dominating a certain phase of the tournament but failing to maintain that intensity for long enough to take them the distance.
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) February 18, 2019
Their 2018 season was a perfect representation of this trend as they won five of their first six matches, before slipping so poorly that they finished second last on the points table, winning just one more match from their remaining eight.
Following that debacle, Kings XI have retained the core from that team but have replenished the squad with young talent. Most importantly, Virender Sehwag stepped down from his role as mentor and Brad Hodge was replaced as coach by former Black Caps head honcho Mike Hesson.
Hesson has a strong team to work with, but he needs to get them to click as a unit. The batting line-up has plenty of firepower including the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and David Miller, with Nicholas Pooran also a strong addition.
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) December 14, 2018
Gayle blew hot and cold last season, and is unlikely to feature in all the games in this. Rahul and Agarwal can be expected to bring consistency, while Miller has the X-factor and Pooran has been in form. Much will be expected from x-factor all-rounder Sam Curran, their new overseas recruit, while Moises Henriques can also lend balance to the team.
The bowling department will be led by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who is also captain. Key to Punjab’s spin attack is also the young Mujeeb ur Rahman, who relies on a bag of variations to mystify batsmen. Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye, Hardus Viljoen and Ankit Rajpoot all make for a promising seam attack.
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) December 13, 2018
Kings XI Punjab spent big money on young domestic players of high promise. They bought mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy for an incredible INR 8.4 crore, and coughed up an additional INR 4.8 crore for Prabhsimran Singh, a local batsman. They traded Marcus Stoinis to Royal Challengers Bangalore for Mandeep Singh, a batsman who has previously played for the team. Among the overseas players, they went all out for England all-rounder Curran, spending INR 7.2 crore to acquire his services. India seamer Shami was bought for INR 4.8 crore, while West Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Pooran took home INR 4.2 crore.
Key Indian player: KL Rahul
The right-hander was the backbone of the Kings XI Punjab batting in the last season, racking up 659 runs at an average of 54.91 while striking at an equally impressive 158.41. As opener, he not only gave his team great starts but often batted long enough to anchor the innings. If he is able to reproduce that tempo this season, Kings XI will automatically have a few bases covered.
When the great Rahul Dravid backs a player, you know he's a class act 👌
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) February 2, 2019
Key overseas player: Chris Gayle
It remains impossible to look past the Universe Boss. Gayle might have his troubles with quality short bowling, and at 39 should be onhis last legs, and yet it seems he’s still got plenty in the tank to generate those blazing hundreds every now and again.
His staggering performances for West Indies against England in their recent ODI series suggests his flame still burns bright. He brings a wealth of experience to the table and if he finds form, together with Rahul, he could destroy bowling attacks.
Kings XI Punjab squad
KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, David Miller, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Moises Henriques, Nicholas Pooran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Sam Curran, Mohammad Shami, Sarfaraz Khan, Hardus Viljoen, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Prabhsimran Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin.
Kings XI Punjab have been one of the most consistently poor sides in the Indian Premier League. But that doesn’t have to be the case this time. They have a fairly well-balanced squad and have the potential to make a splash. Importantly, they need to ensure not to squander momentum once they gain it. That will be their most important takeaway for them from their previous season.