Mitchell Johnson (left) and George Bailey can be the key players for Kings XI Punjab in this year’s IPL © IANS, PTI
Kings XI Punjab was perhaps the smartest side in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction 2014 as they picked up a number of marquee players, who on their day can win matches single-handedly. Devarchit Varma tells how things may pan out for the franchise that is yet to win the Indian Premier League title.
Previous year’s squad: Adam Gilchrist (c), Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bhargav Bhatt, Piyush Chawla, Bipul Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Aniket Chaudhary, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeet Singh Mann, Harmeet Singh, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Shaun Marsh, Mandeep Singh, Dmitri Mascarenhas, David Miller, Michael Neser, Luke Pomersbach, Nitin Saini, Sandeep Sharma, R Sathish, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty, Manan Vohra, Ryan Harris.
Previous year’s strategy: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had an ordinary run in the 2013 season, as they won only eight out of the 16 matches they played. They did find some momentum towards the end of their campaign but there was no way it seemed like they could make it into the next round. They were dependent heavily on their key players such as Mandeep Singh, Bhargav Bhatt and Adam Gilchrist, who even had to sit out after playing few initial matches due to his poor form. Gilchrist’s withdrawal did affect them, and they couldn’t find anyone who could do a job as good as the former Australian cricketer. David Miller’s show in some of the games did inspire them to few wins, but an overall team effort was missing from their side.
This year’s squad: Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Anureet Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Sandeep Sharma, Akshar Patel, Beuran Hendricks, Karanveer Singh, Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shardul Thakur, Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Mitchell Johnson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, Thisara Perera, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Parvinder Awana.
Players retained: David Miller and Manan Vohra.
This year’s strategy: Punjab did play their cards exceedingly well in the IPL 2014 auction to get in the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara. The presence of these big names in their squad not only changes the face of a side that seemed threatening only on paper, but if we scratch the surface, it has some of the biggest in-form players in international circuit. Sehwag would be though, under pressure following his poor run in international circuit, but he is certainly one of the biggest match-winners on his day and it will be daft to write him off. Johnson’s red-hot form with the ball will make Punjab one of the most feared sides at their home ground, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali.
Surprise picks: Sehwag and Pujara. While Sehwag’s poor run saw him being dropped from the Delhi side, Pujara’s lack of experience in the shorter formats, especially Twenty20s (T20s) does not make him an ideal candidate in the slam-bang version of the game.
Dark horse: Manan Vohra, the right-handed batsman was one of the important players for Punjab in the last edition, as he scored 161 runs in 12 matches that he played. With his retention this year, Punjab will hope that he continues the good show. He is a middle-order batsman and will aim to make most of any opportunity that comes his way.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)