Cricket

IPL countdown: Kings XI looks capable of improving decade-old record

West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.

West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Should it find the ‘right’ keeper to do the job, the team has the potential to reach the playoffs

It is hard to believe that a franchise, in the Indian Premier League players’ auction, could get everything right except bidding successfully for a wicketkeeper-batsman!

Kings XI Punjab could well pay the price for making either K. L. Rahul or Aaron Finch keep wickets. Helpless, the team will now have to rely on a batsman-wicketkeeper for a maximum of 17 matches.

Overall, the squad displays a good mix of top-order batsmen and experienced middle-order campaigners. The bowling department looks adequate with pacers and spinners offering handy options to the management.

This year, the team looks capable of improving its decade-old record.

Kings, runner-up in 2014 and a semifinalist in 2008, has often fallen short of living up the expectations of its fans.

With R. Ashwin making his debut as a captain, it will be interesting to see how he deals with the challenges in the shortest format of the game.

Axar Patel, whose left-arm spin and handy skills with the bat made the owners retain him, is the other main spinner in the team.

IPL countdown: Kings XI looks capable of improving decade-old record

Rich in experience

The squad is rich in experience with Chris Gayle, Finch, Yuvraj Singh and Manoj Tiwary, along with Ashwin, Tye and leg-spinner Pardeep Sahu forming the “30+ Club.”

If Gayle, at 38 years, is the oldest member of the team, Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman, at 16, is the youngest. However, this off-spinner may not get to play much in the presence of Ashwin.

The exuberance of youth is provided Karnataka’s batting trio of Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair. Pacers like Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot besides left-armers Ben Dwarshuis and Barinder Sran can complement Tye.

Inclusion of batting all-rounder like Marcus Stoinis can help bring the desired balance to the playing XI.

With skipper Ashwin already talking about toying with the possibility of making the top-order batsmen bat in the middle-order and vice versa, there is already a sense of curiosity around the composition of the playing XI, at least in the early part of the league.

Unlike all his predecessors, Ashwin will be watched with added interest to see how a bowler-captain responds to a crunch situation. With coach Brad Hodge and mentor Virender Sehwag there to provide the necessary inputs, Ashwin will have plenty to options to mull over before taking the final call.

Overall, the team’s strengths outweigh the weaknesses. Should Kings find the ‘right’ keeper to do the job, it clearly has the potential to reach the playoffs.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:34:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/ipl-countdown-kings-xi-looks-capable-of-improving-decade-old-record/article23437010.ece

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