IPL 2019 team preview: Can Ravichandran Ashwin-Mike Hesson combo resurrect Kings XI Punjab?

In the 11 seasons of the IPL, only three other teams other than Mumbai Indians or Chennai Super Kings or Kolkata Knight Riders have won the title and Kings XI Punjab is not one of them. To their credit, they have shown promise on several occasions but each time it turned out to be a false dawn. (ALSO READ: Strengthened Sunrisers Hyderabad a real threat)

However, the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side has the batting firepower, bowling resources, a heap of Indian talent and foreign superstars in addition to a coach, Mike Hesson, who has enjoyed success at the highest level by taking New Zealand to the final of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. (ALSO READ: Hurt Mumbai Indians seek record fourth title)

There have not been any injury concerns for KXIP and if they find a way to manage the workload of the World Cup-bound cricketers – KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, David Miller, Chris Gayle, Mujeeb Ur Rahman – and then still get the maximum out of the big guns, they have the potential to do a much better than their last year’s performance. (ALSO READ: Chennai Super Kings target encore)

Here’s a SWOT analysis of KXIP before the IPL 2019 kicks off on March 23.

Captain: R Ashwin

 

He is not afraid to speak his mind, and neither is he afraid to go for a jugular and try something out of the box. While Ashwin, the captain, could not yield the desired results in the second half of IPL 2018, there was no shortage of experimentation and to be fair to him, it worked in Kings XI Punjab’s favour in the first half of the tournament; be it him bowling leg-spin or using Mujeeb, the Afghanistan spinner, as an attacking weapon.

However, the senior Indian off-spinner, who has lost his place in the national team’s limited-overs side, will be keen to brush aside that disappointment and turn his and his IPL side’s fortunes around.

Coach: Mike Hesson

Kings XI Punjab, one of the franchises which has managed to have the set of people as owners which bought the team for the first time, have changed far too many coaches. The team has had some of the best talents available, but the best that they could do is to be a runners-up in IPL 2014.

However, the team owners will be hopeful that under Mike Hesson, the things will change for the better. This will be the first time when the Kiwi coach will be a part of the IPL in a coaching capacity. However, he knows a thing or two about changing the fortunes of a cricket team. The bespectacled coach, who is known to take some tough calls, transformed the New Zealand side and turned the talented yet inconsistent team into a winning unit with Brendon McCullum in charge.

The KXIP owners and their fans will hope that under him, the side will go on to win their maiden IPL title.

 Squad:

KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, David Miller, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Varun Chakaravarthy, Sam Curran, Mohammad Shami, Prabhsimran Singh, Nicolas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoe, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Naushad Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin

Previous IPL standings:

2008 – semi-finals; 2009 – fifth; 2010 – eighth; 2011 – fifth; 2012 – sixth; 2013 – sixth; 2014 – runners-up; 2015 – eighth; 2016- eighth; 2017 – fifth; 2018 – seventh.

How they fared in 2018:

With the new skipper in tow, Kings XI Punjab hoped for the things to change. They changed, but only a little. R Ashwin, who had said that there will be a lot of surprises in store before the season kicked off, got off to a flying start as a skipper as KXIP won five of their first six games.

However, just when it looked that the side will make it to the playoffs, the things went downhill so much so that KXIP lost seven of their eight matches and ended up at the seventh spot in the points table.

New additions:

A mystery spinner from Tamil Nadu, Varun Chakravarthy, a left-arm pacer who can bat from England, Sam Curran, an experienced Indian pacer Shami, a teenage star who is seeking revival in fortunes Sarfaraz Khan, an Australian all-rounder with a proven pedigree in T20 cricket Moises Henriques and a big-hitting West Indian Nicholas Pooran are some of the top of the players that KXIP bought in the IPL auction before this season in addition to Hardus Viljoe, Darshan Nalkande, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin and Prabhsimran Singh.

Key players:

 

 

There is no one in the history of T20 cricket who has bossed the world like the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. The swashbuckling left-hander, who made a dream comeback to the West Indies ODI squad recently, hammering the England bowling attack, is clearly one of the key players for KXIP.

Then, there are Rahul, who recently had his share of on-field struggles and off-field controversies, but who was KXIP’s best batsman last season, and Miller. Mayank Agarwal too will be high on confidence following his success in his maiden tour for India to Australia.

In the bowling department, KXIP boasts the likes of Ashwin, Mujeeb , Shami, Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye and Chakravarthy amongst others.

 IPL 2019 prediction:

With two of the sharpest and innovative cricketing minds – Hesson and Ashwin – joining forces, KXIP shall do well to get over the disappointments of previous seasons of IPL. They have the resources to go big and make it to the playoffs.