Finally, we have the Kings XI Punjab, the last of the founding teams in the IPL. The team have often started off their season strong but eventually faded out, as was the case last year. But will IPL 2019 be any different for them this time around? The team are owned by the Dabur group and the Wadia group, bought for around $76 million.
The Punjab lions ran into minor controversy along with the Rajasthan Royals. As it turns out, in the wake of the controversy surrounding former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi, the two franchises were nearly terminated. After a lawsuit filed by the team, they won and were reinstated with immediate effect.
Background and History
In their maiden season, they kicked things off sluggishly with two losses. But then, an inspired 94 runs from Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara set the ball rolling. From that moment onwards, they were nearly unstoppable with nine wins from 10 matches. They were second in the points table but were beaten to the final by the Chennai Super Kings.
In 2009, the team were hobbled by the absence of the Australian contingent. As a result, their results took a massive hit, losing to Delhi and Kolkata. Things began to look up when they managed to beat Rajasthan, Mumbai and Bangalore. However, their season only seesawed from there, with 4 wins from 8 matches.
During IPL 2010, the Kings XI Punjab squad slumped to 6 losses but it only took a Super Over to deliver their maiden win of the year. A year later, they had an ‘oh so close’ moment when they ended the season in 5th, two points shy of a payoffs berth. Sadly, in 2012, they were back to their inconsistent self again, winning eight out of 16 matches.
In 2013, despite missing out on a playoffs slot yet again, Punjab batsman, David Miller played the innings of a lifetime. He managed to smash an unbeaten 101 against a hapless Royal Challengers Bangalore. That unbeaten century guided KXIP to victory over RCB.
In 2014, the slow start syndrome was a thing of the past, with KXIP winning their first 5 matches. That was the year Glenn Maxwell announced himself to the IPL world. The Australian boasted of a strike rate of over 200 in his first three matches. Their cause was helped by the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra, blending experience and youth almost perfectly. Punjab managed to reach the final, but were beaten in a closely contested battle with the Kolkata Knight Riders.
2015 was another bad year as they were unable to repeat the earlier heroics, as their form only got them to 8th in the league. Things did not look any better in 2016 as they were at rock bottom yet again. Their only consolation was Sandeep Sharma ending the year as top wicket-taker.
2017 saw much better fortunes as they ended up 5th yet again, agonisingly close to the playoffs once more. In 2018, they had a quick start and looked really strong, especially with the hard-hitting Chris Gayle on the team. But then, in typical KXIP fashion, they bottled it once again.
This year, the team are led by former Chennai Super Kings stalwart, Ravichandran Ashwin, for a second year in a row.
The IPL Kings XI Punjab team have made a total of two transfers for IPL 2019. Firstly, they acquired Mandeep Singh from Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, they did let go of one player in the process, Marcus Stoinis, to the aforementioned RCB.
With regard to key players for IPL 2019, one of them will be the giant West Indian batsman, Chris Gayle. Funny story though, he was actually the last player in the auction and not a single bid came for him. Finally, KXIP seemed to have taken pity and bid for him, they were the only ones.
It was surprising to see as he had been with RCB for so long and being a batting-heavy side, they would have snapped him up in a heartbeat. But then again, that is only hypothetical, and Gayle ended up with Punjab.
Other key players will be KL Rahul, skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, David Miller, Sarfaraz Khan, Mohammed Shami and more.
So far it seems that most of the foreign players have free schedules, though Sam Curran could be in doubt later in the IPL 2019 tournament. This is because, England will face Ireland and later, Pakistan in a one-off and an ODI series respectively.
Also, Punjab don’t seem to have any players who are nursing injuries just yet, and that is a big bonus.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Last year, Kings XI Punjab kicked off the season in style, courtesy a certain KL Rahul. The then 25-year old smashed the fastest half century, needing just 14 balls to do so. Now, with Chris Gayle also in the line-up, KXIP’s batting arsenal just got a whole lot stronger.
Also, in the form that they are in, Gayle, Andrew Tye and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are almost a no-brainer. But, given the four overseas player limit, the other foreign players will have to battle it out for the final slot for IPL 2019.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, the middle order will raise a lot of question marks. The top order looks set already, which also warrants answers on who will comprised the midfield. Players like Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch, Manoj Tiwary and Axar Patel were axed in a bid to find better players to fill the void.
Gayle, for all his batting strength, has struggled with fitness, so that may present a problem. What doesn’t help matters is that KL Rahul is also keeping one eye on the 2019 World Cup and will not want to tire himself out.
Full Squad: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, R Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, Andrew Tye, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman. David Miller, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Hardus Viljoen, Arshdeep Singh, Moises Henriques, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar
Predicted 11: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Mohammed Shami, Sarfaraz Khan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Varun Chakravarthy.