Hyderabad: The last time Kings XI Punjab came close to winning their maiden IPL title was way back in 2014 where they made it to their maiden summit clash. Since then, they endured a prolonged poor run.
Their form was so bad over the years that they turned out to be mere participants. They finished at the bottom in 2015 and 2016 before finishing 5th in 2017. In the last two years too, they put up a rather below par show finishing seven and sixth.
However, the Kings are hoping for a change of fortunes in the new season that is set to be played in UAE. After Ravichandran Ashwin’s departure to Delhi Capitals, KL Rahul has been bestowed with the captaincy.
And the team has revamped its core team and from the outset, the team sports balanced look on the paper. Having retained some big players like Chris Gayle and Rahul, they strengthened their squad in the last year’s auctions by bringing in Glenn Maxwell.
This season will be particularly challenging for Rahul with the extra burden of captaincy. He has been impressive with the bat in the last two seasons scoring 593 runs in 2019 and 659 runs in 2018. His prolific batting earned him captaincy but it needs to be seen how the extra responsibility affects his batting.
He forms one of the best opening partnerships with Universal Boss Chris Gayle. The Caribbean star too was impressive last season. He scored 490 runs. If these two get going, no bowling unit is strong enough to stop them.
With the presence of Maxwell, Mayank Agarwal, their middle order looks rock solid. If they can accommodate Nicholas Pooran along with Indian talent like Sarfaraz Khan or Mandeep Singh, their lower order too has the fire power to finish off close matches. If Rahul and Gayle can provide good starts, the onus would be on the middle-order to cash in and finish the job.
The pace bowling department has depth with the addition of West Indies pacer Sheldon Cottrell and the England seasoned pacer Chris Jordan to the likes of Mohammad Shami, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Arshadeep Singh and Ishan Porel.
However, with the slow and turning wickets on offer in UAE, their spin department looks weak. Apart from Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman, there is no other big name which can hamper their chances. Ashwin’s departure has left a big void. They have also traded off-spinner K Gowtham and left-arm spinner J Suchit but lack of experience can be an area of concern.
Anil Kumble has taken over as head coach for this season and Rahul had already said that former Team India’s coach’s presence will boost their bid to end the title drought. However, inconsistency has been their big enemy over the years. And if they have to stage a turnaround this year, consistency is the mantra for them.
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