Hyderabad: Kings XI Punjab team has always been underachievers in the 11-year history of the Indian Premier League. Having reached the summit clash just once in 2014, their campaign in the cash-rich tournament has been disappointing.
Though they started the league on a good note reaching the semifinals in the inaugural edition, lack of consistency did them in. After the appearance in 2014 edition final, where they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders, they finished at the bottom of the table for two successive years. In 2017 and 18, they finished lowly fifth and seventh. They have overhauled the entire team, barring Axar Patel, before the start of the last season in search of the elusive IPL title. But there was no change in the script.
However, the new season offers a ray of hope for the Preity Zinta co-owned team. Having retained the high-profile players like Universal Boss Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, R Ashwin and Andrew Tye, they added all-rounders in Sam Curran (England), Moises Henriques (Australia) to their fire power. They have also bought canny pacer Mohammad Shami, who has been performing consistently with Team India in recent times.
The last season had been the show of KL Rahul and Andrew Tye who led their batting and bowling departments respectively. Rahul was prolific with the bat amassing 659 runs with an average excess of 54 and stood at the No.3 in batting chart. But he was not supported by the batsman around him with Gayle being inconsistent finishing with just 368 runs, a poor shadow of his slam-bang form. However, there is no stopping the Caribbean super star once he gets going. And with Rahul and Gayle likely to open the innings, the pair is a threat to any attack. But the key here is performing consistently. The presence of Aaron Finch gives them a lot of options in the opening department. If they can give a fairly good start, the likes of Agarwal and the experienced David Mille can cause serious damage in the middle order. But the indifferent form of Finch is a major worrying factor.
In the bowling department, Tye, who was the owner of the purple cap last year with 24 scalps to his name, has been doing the bulk of the work. But he got little support from the teammates with next best being Afghanistan’s young leg spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman with 14 wickets. Ravichandran Ashwin was completely off-colour in the season picking up just 10 wickets despite playing all the league matches. He has to bring his experience to the fore and lead from the front if he has to change the fortunes of his team this year. The addition of Shami and spinner Murugan Ashwin will definitely add tooth to the bowling unit.
The presence of all-rounders is crucial to a team’s fortunes. But Kings look a bit weak in this area as Henriques looks past his prime while Curran is yet to prove his worth as an all-rounder in the shortest format. On the whole, the team has to perform exceptionally well if they have to lay their hands on the maiden IPL trophy.