New Delhi: The Kings XI Punjab endured a heartbreaking season in 2016, as they finished as the wooden spooners of the league, just a season after making it to the finals. But with 'Big Show' Glenn Maxwell leading the team this season, with a squad full of established international names and exciting young Indian talent, Punjab are certainly one of the dark horses of the season.
Here is a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kings XI Punjab and who could be their possible trump card.
1. ESTABLISHED OVERSEAS BATSMEN
Kings XI Punjab had a bad season last year because their batting failed to perform. But you can't expect the likes of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller to have two back to back poor seasons. Add to that the fact that Maxwell recently made his Test debut in India and proved that he is a long format player too, something that would give the Aussie a lot of confidence ahead of his first assignment as a captain in the IPL. The ever reliable Hashim Amla is there too and with Punjab buying the likes of Martin Guptill and Eoin Morgan in the auction, the team has a battery of foreign batting stars who will definitely provide the team much needed X-Factor.
2. TALENTED INDIAN PACE ATTACK
While the bowling did pull Punjab down last season, the team has exciting youngsters who can spring a surprise or two. Sandeep Sharma has the ability to move the new ball and can be a handful on a good track. The addition of Ishant Sharma to the side has added much needed experience to Punjab's bowling, while Mohit Sharma's change of pace could also prove handy.
T Natarajan is a bowler many fans and pundits are waiting to have a look at. The left arm paceman rose in prominence with his performances in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and then went on to have a good domestic season.
1. LACK OF DEPTH IN BOWLING
Punjab will bank heavily on their home grown talent in the bowling department and that is a cause of major worry. The team has almost no quality international T20 bowler in the squad. The likes of Matt Henry and Marcus Stoinis don't strike fear at a batsman's heart and Ishant Sharma isn't the best T20 bowler around, the fact that he wasn't picked up by any team in the auction shows the same.
Axar Patel is the only quality spinner in the team and he has often had to bear the responsibility of the team's bowling on his shoulders.
2. NO HOME FORTRESS
Punjab doesn't have the best home record in the IPL and that is a cause of major worry. This is mostly because the team hasn't been able to find out its core strength based on which they could create a wicket that would help the team. Punjab needs to win more consistently at home to do well.
Eoin Morgan is a class act when it comes to T20 batting and he is one of the few foreign stars who plays spin really well. Was at his best when he played for KKR, but couldn't do much for Sunrisers Hyderabad. The English limited overs captain could well be the purchase of the season for Punjab as he will add a lot of depth to their batting.
2017 PREDICTION: LEAGUE STAGE
Kings XI Punjab haven't made any significant changes to their squad and they would need their bowlers to come up with the goods because that is one department which looks extremely fragile. A top four finish looks difficult, given the strength of the other teams.
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