Anil Kumble appointed head coach of Kings XI Punjab
Anil Kumble will take over coaching reins of Kings XI Punjab. (IANS Image)

Anil Kumble, India’s all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests, has been appointed the head coach of Kings XI Punjab from the upcoming season of the IPL. Kumble replaces Mike Hesson, his deal being finalised Thursday evening in Mumbai. Franchise co-owner Mohit Burman confirmed the news to ESPNcricinfo.

The appointment makes Kumble the only Indian coach in the IPL. He has earlier served as chief mentor of Royal Challengers Bangalore, before joining four-time champions Mumbai Indians in the same capacity in 2013. This is Kumble’s first coaching stint in any form of cricket since resigning as India’s head coach in 2017 in rather unceremonious circumstances.

Kumble joined as coach in 2016 and stepped down after the 2017 Champions Trophy following “untenable” relations with captain Virat Kohli. On Friday morning, Ness Wadia, the other co-owner of KXIP had told Times of India how Kumble was their choice to coach the team.

“Kumble is our choice to coach Kings XI. The world knows about his cricketing and coaching abilities. He’s a very calm, cool and collected person. He comes with a lot of experience in the IPL, having worked with two other franchises in the past, and also with the Indian team. We’re pretty sure that under his leadership, Kings XI will do very well,” Wadia said.

The status of R Ashwin’s continuation as KXIP skipper is, however, unclear after reports of him being traded to Delhi Capitals. Burman informed the eventual decision will be taken by Kumble himself, hours after Wadia backed Ashwin to remain an integral part of the team. Judging by Kumble’s appreciation of Ashwin, where he called the offspinner “an asset to the Indian team”, the captain’s position should not be in danger.

Kumble is KXIP’s fifth coach in five years. From 2014 to 2016, Sanjay Bangar was in charge, followed by Virender Sehwag becoming the head of cricket operations in 2017. In 2018 and 2019, Brad Hodge and Hesson respectively were names coaches.

Supporting Kumble in the coaching staff is former KXIP captain George Bailey, while former left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi will serve as assistant coach. Under Bailey, KXIP reached the IPL final in 2014 where they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final. Joshi’s coaching credentials are known having earlier served with Bangladesh and numerous Indian domestic teams.

Besides, Jonty Rhodes is expected to be named the fielding coach of the side, given company by former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh, likely to be appointed bowling coach.