George Bailey's KXIP finished runners up in the last season © IANS
George Bailey’s KXIP finished runners up in the last season © IANS

The Indian Premier League 2014 runners up and Champions League 2014 semi-finalists, Kings XI Punjab, will be looking to continue their good form of last edition in the new season, with George Bailey and Sanjay Bangar at helm of things. Sudatta Mukherjee previews the team.

Captain: George Bailey has been the ever smiling skipper of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Leading the team to their first final in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Bailey however did not perform much with the bat apart from one quickfire knock of 40 which came off 13 balls. Bailey has been more effective in leading the rejuvenated team. It will be interesting to see whether Bailey can continue his smart moves in the IPL 8 edition as well, with new inductees into the squad. IPL 2015 Auction: Kings XI Punjab full list of players bought

Key Indian players: Akshar Patel and Shardul Thakur will be the key Indian players to look out for in IPL 2015. Riding on his IPL performance last year, Akshar got call for national side and ever since then there has been no looking back for the youngster. Although he is yet to give a stellar performance in the national side, he has been a huge draw card for his IPL side. In the IPL Akshar has a good bowling average of 22.52 and an astonishing economy rate of 6.13. Moreover, Akshar has a strike-rate of 144.78 with the bat and can score quick 20-30 runs which can give his side an upper hand when in need. Read: Kings XI Punjab claim to have made strategic additions to squad

On the other hand, Shardul Thakur has shone with the ball in the just concluded Ranji Trophy season. He was the joint highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy 2015 season with 48 wickets from 10 matches at an amazing average of 20.81 and an economy rate of 2.90. Thakur’s drastic improvement has seen him become a mainstay in the Mumbai Ranji side. This will give the youngster good deal of confidence and can be expected to come handy for the IPL side as well. Indian Premier League 2015 schedule: IPL 8 match time table with venue details

Key foreign players: David Miller, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson will once again be the powerful foreign players in the squad. Both Miller and Maxwell have been dominant in recent past and have had a good if not great ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 outing. Moreover, both the batsmen are big hitters of the ball, and specialize in scoring quick runs and are big innings impact players. In the previous season, Miller had an average of 44.60 and a strike-rate of 149.16 and Maxwell had an average of 34.50, with a strike-rate of 187.75. Because of their batting style, Miller got the nickname of ‘Killer Miller’ and Maxwell was already a name for his big hits. IPL 2015 Auction: Chennai Super Kings full list of players bought

Johnson, who had an amazing 2013-14 season, saved his best performance for the final two games of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Johnson produced an amazing bowling performance against both India and New Zealand, helping Australia in both situations to restrict the opposition to a low score. Johnson can be intimidating without doing much with the ball. His mere presence is enough to scare the opposition. IPL 2015 Auction: Delhi Daredevils full list of players bought

Strengths: For Kings XI Punjab, their main strength will be the top batsmen and in the likes of Wriddhiman Saha, who can perform under pressure. Bailey and coach Sanjay Bangar have been revelations and influential in guiding the team reach the final of the last edition and they will be looking to continue that form. It should not be forgotten that KXIP have some good domestic talent in the likes of Rishi Dhawan, Manan Vohra and Thakur and the team management will be depending a lot on the youngsters. Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2015: Fresh team set sights on bigger awards

Weaknesses: The younger, inexperienced players of KXIP could also prove to be a headache and weakness for the side. The side tend to be more dependent on bigger and experienced players. It will be important to see how Bangar handles the young lot and pushes them in tough situations. Being competent in nervous situations is another factor.

Past record: Kings XI Punjab have come a long way since their 2008 semi-finalist position. They have been tested a lot over five years and finally they made it big by reaching the final in IPL 2014. Apart from 2008 and 2014, they really do not have much to show off. Last year have been one of the most successful IPL outings for the Preity Zinta co-owned franchise.

KXIP squad for IPL 2015:

George Bailey (c), Akshar Patel, Anureet Singh, Beuran Hendricks, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Gurkareet Mann Singh, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Karanveer Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Manan Vohra, Parvinder Awana, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Shivam Sharma, Thisara Perera, Virender Sehwag, Murali Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Yogesh Golwalkar.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English television show on her laptop. Her Twitter handle is @blackrosegal)