Here we go again – The Indian Premier League (IPL), is set to begin its 13th season in the UAE from September 19th, 2020. After an inevitable delay due to the COVID19 pandemic, the cricketing fraternity from India and all around the world is keen on witnessing the annual T20 carnival. IPL this year is also set to have a new title sponsor, Dream 11 to grace the occasion. The league has been in and around the news for almost two months now and with all sanctions achieved, one only waits for it to commence.
Each team this season comprises of only 24 players, select support staff and only 10 net bowlers to travel along. Moreover, each player will have to undergo a strict quarantine and routine tests before training as well as due course. Having said, every single franchise, every single player and every single fan is ready to play and support his/her favorite team. Here’s a series with an individual look at the capabilities, balance, strengths and weaknesses of the eight IPL teams.
Kings XI Punjab:
Kings XI Punjab have often been found languishing in the bottom half of the table after the league stage. They have had their own battles to fight, both on and off the field. However, over the last couple of years, they have shown immense promise and intent to win matches at will. The emergence of some young Indian stars has led the revolution with an able foreign support. They’d all be keen on making significant contributions to the team’s performance this year. Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2020 are worthy of springing in surprises.
Kings XI Punjab Head Coach, Anil Kumble immediately announced after the auction that the team will be led by the young and promising Indian opener, KL Rahul. He batted exceedingly well in the IPL last season, top scoring for the franchise. In the last few months, the right-hander has shown immense maturity for India taking multiple responsibilities for the team. He was seen opening the batting, playing in the middle order, keeping wickets and also captaining the side at times in white ball cricket. Rahul has been in terrific form and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he pulls out wonders with his captaincy as well.
Leading a comparatively young side with talented Indian as well as foreing players, KL Rahul for Kings XI could potentially be a match-winner with his all-round ability.
Runners Up in the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League, under George Bailey. (Interestingly, it was the year IPL was last played in the UAE)
Transfers and New Buys:
The trade of Ravichandran Ashwin to Delhi pre-season was unexpected, but Kings XI seemed to have a definite plan going into the auction. The franchise has trusted the Indian youngsters to do their job and backed the side with ample foreign fire-power. The inclusion of Glenn Maxwell and James Neesham has further added a new dimension to the squad.
Kings XI also went in to buy some interesting Indian talents in K Gowtham, M Ashwin, D Hooda, I Porel and U19 sensation Ravi Bishnoi, each of whom capable of winning matches.
Strengths, Key Players:
The pitches in the UAE are expected to be slow turners. In that case, the ability to play spinners becomes important. Kings XI Punjab are arguably one of the best batting sides against slow bowling. The Indian middle order core of Karun, Mayank, Mandeep and Sarfaraz is largely underrated, as per the experts. The hard hitting abilities of Maxwell, Gayle and Pooran can not be undermined either. If even one of them gets into form and plays their natural game, Kings XI batting will be a force in reckoning.
The bowling department on the other hand, led by Mohammad Shami is also well suited for the conditions. A well rounded spin department with Mujeeb, Bishnoi, Gowtham and M Ashwin could well spin the opposition into its web. Overall, the Punjab team this year comes in with good options.
The team has enough talents to bank on to secure victories. However, the relatively young side is a touch short of experienced personnel. The need to step up at such a big stage can put an added pressure on the players. It will be interesting to see how the players cope up with all the pressure around, especially with the imposed pandemic restrictions. The newly appointed captain in KL Rahul is also yet to be tested in crunch situations. Needless to say, the job of the Punjab support staff and Head Coach Anil Kumble is extremely important.
The team is well rounded with completeness with the bat and the ball. Over the years, the team hasn’t enjoyed much success but this season could be one of the better yields. Having said that, it is important for the Kings to play together as a unit and finish games well. Some momentum early on will be useful to the cause, but it will take consistency and temperament for the team to get through to the play-offs.
Kings XI Punjab Squad:
KL Rahul (c)(wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, M Ashwin, J Suchith, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, , Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh.
ICN360’s Best Possible Punjab XI:
L Rahul (c)(wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan/Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran/James Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham Chris Jordan/Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammad Shami.