Sanjay Bangar is assistant coach of Kings XI Punjab in IPL 7 © Getty Images


By Sabi Hussain


New Delhi: Mar 6, 2014


Yuvraj Singh has been a “big miss” for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) but the franchise’s newly-appointed assistant coach Sanjay Bangar says in-form Mitchell Johnson‘s inclusion has given them the right balance they were searching for ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL).


Bangar said that KXIP were “badly” looking to buy Yuvraj at the 2014 IPL auction but failed in their attempt as Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) spent a staggering Rs 14 crore to buy the left-handed all-rounder.


“We badly wanted Yuvraj Singh back in the Punjab team but at the auction, his price went too high. We could not afford to spend that much given our purse. We missed out on him because of his price. But, you can’t take Punjab out of Yuvraj. He is a Punjabi boy and will remain so. We wish him all the best at the RCB,” Bangar told PTI.


Kings XI Punjab’s co-owner Preity Zinta had also said in a recent interview that Yuvraj, who got the highest bid this season, was the only person she thought the franchise missed out on.


But the presence of Australian pace spearhead Johnson, who has been brought by the franchise for Rs 6.5 crore, surely makes Punjab one of the most feared sides in the seventh edition of the league, and Bangar said his presence has fulfilled the need for a “genuine” foreign fast bowler.


“We are very excited to have him in our side. KXIP will benefit immensely from his international experience. He has fulfilled the need for a genuine fast bowler we were looking for. Another good thing about Jonhson is that he can bat lower down the order. His batting potential hasn’t been fully tapped. He is an asset for us,” he said.


KXIP made impressive use of their auction purse to get the Aussie quick in their fold after Mumbai Indians (MI) did not retain him for the upcoming edition. Johnson was the architect of Australia’s thumping Ashes 2013-14 victory and his team’s 2-1 triumph over South Africa in the recently-concluded three-Test rubber.


With the likes of Johnson, Shaun Marsh, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Cheteshwar Pujara and David Miller in their side, Kings XI have a good chance to claim the elusive title.


One player everyone in the KXIP fold would be hoping to come good, is Virender Sehwag, who was bought for Rs 3.2 crore after being ignored by his previous franchise Delhi Daredevils (DD).


Sehwag made his last international appearance against Australia in March 2013, when he scored managed six runs. He had a disastrous domestic outing this season and his decision to bat down the order backfired.


But Bangar exuded confidence that Sehwag would herald a new beginning for the Punjab outfit, which finished sixth in the last edition.


“I have always said that form is temporary, class is permanent. Sehwag is a class player and his records speak for himself. Sehwag will turn around a new chapter with a fine show for KXIP. We are happy to have him in our fold.”


Bangar, however, refused to answer the most important question – who will captain the side after Adam Gilchrist.


Punjab will have to pick a new skipper and it looks like a two-way fight between Australian T20 captain George Bailey and Sehwag.


“We would soon be revealing the name. We are building the consensus on the name. The process to identify the captain is on,” he said.


Bangar also added that the team management will decide Sehwag’s playing order keeping the best interest of the franchise in mind. There is a lot of speculation about Sehwag’s batting order – whether he would open the innings or bat in the middle order.


“The team management will take a call on it. We will have to see where he fits in our scheme of things.”


Bangar also justified the expensive buying of Rishi Dhawan (Rs 3 crore) and Gurkeerat Mann (Rs 1.3 crore).


“All-rounders are a scarce commodity these days. You have Laxmi Ratna Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Irfan Pathan to name a few.


Dhawan fits into our team as an all-rounder with a proven track record for Mumbai. He is also the highest wicket taker in the Ranji Trophy this season. His high price justified his demand at the auction.”