The perennial under-performers of the IPL, KXIP has tried to plug the holes that have derailed their journey in the past, and have managed to assemble a potent squad with a strong Indian core, and the franchise got off to a rollicking start to the Vivo IPL 2018 as Ashwin’s led side thumped the Delhi Daredevils by six wickets.
The Kings now move to Bangalore to face Virat Kohli’s led side that are coming after a first match defeat against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Sunday Night.
Partnering Rahul will be the wonder boy of the 2017/18 Indian domestic season, Mayank Aggarwal. With 1160 runs in Ranji Trophy, 723 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and over 250 runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament at a strike rate of 144.94, it’s fair to say that Agarwal is in the form of his life.
Though Mayank got out cheaply in the opening game against DD, he’ll hope to reverse the indifferent start with a substantial performance, come April 13
At No. 2 will be Indian and now former RCB batsman Lokesh Rahul. One of the few batsmen to hit a century in all three formats of the game, Rahul, when in form, is a delight to watch. One of the prime qualities of Rahul is his versatility.
Rahul lit up the tournament with the fastest IPL fifty (50 off 13 balls), and helped set up a comfortable 6 wicket win for KXIP.
Nair has been in scintillating form this winter especially in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy where he accumulated 379 runs (third on the list of top run-getters in the tournament) in nine matches at a strike rate of 173.8,and he continued with the same with a pristine and calm fifty to guide his team over the line against DD.
Finch’s presence will certainly add firepower to the KXIP line-up and though he had a poor IPL season last year with the Gujarat Lions, Finch’s recent form in white-ball cricket has been imperious and he’d be hoping for a substantial IPL season this time around
Yuvraj looked out of touch in the first game, as he scratched his way to a 22-ball 12, and would be hoping to put on a scintillating show against the RCB.
If you ask yourself who can be the potential X-Factor for KXIP in the 2018 season? One name that instantly comes to mind is Australia’s all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.
Stoinis shot into fame when he pulverized the Kiwi attack into submission with a breath-taking 146 at Auckland. His blitz earned him an IPL contract with the Kings XI Punjab.
One of the few things that I am looking forward to in this IPL is how Ravichandran Ashwin fares in his captaincy debut and the vile off-spinner fared well in his debut, along with a picket in his four overs, Ashwin’s field placements and tactics on the field were immaculate.
The only player to be retained by the KXIP this year, Axar Patel will accompany Ashwin in the spin bowling department.
An orthodox left-arm spinner who thrives on choking the batsmen with his variations, Axar has taken 58 wickets in 59 matches at an average of 26.67 and will play a key part of KXIP’s plans this year. Patel was particularly expensive in the first match and would be looking for an improved performance against the RCB.
Mujib Ur Rahman
The 17-year-old Mujib ur Rahman became the youngest cricketer to debut in the IPL in KXIP’s tournament opener.
The mystery spinner with a plethora of variations at his disposal, made an immediate impact in the game, as he dismissed both Colin Munro and a dangerous looking Rishabh Pant, and he’d be expected to continue his good work against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 13.
While Punjab has done remarkably well at the auctions to assemble an all-around squad, there are few chinks in their armor which are difficult to overlook. The most prominent of them is the lack of depth in fast bowling.
This is where the role of Mohit Sharma becomes pivotal. With years of experience now under his belt and a bag of tricks to deceive the batsman, it remains to be seen if he can step us and be the leader of the attack.
A late bloomer, 31-year-old Tye is predominantly a limited-overs bowler who thrives on choking the batsmen with his nagging line and a plethora of subtle variations that tend to bamboozle even the best in the game.
Tye did not have a good start to the tournament (0-38 in 4 overs) and the tall fast-bowler needs to step-up for his team, especially with him being the spearhead of the attack.