A new look Kings XI Punjab under Ravichandran Ashwin will take on Delhi Daredevils in their opening encounter of IPL-2018 on Sunday, as both sides look to begin the T20 tournament on a winning note.
The live telecast of the match will start at 4 PM on April 8(Sunday) The match can be seen live on the Star Sports network and live streaming will be available on hotstar.com. You can also follow our live blog for ball-by-ball updates and analysis on cricketnext.com.
Punjab mentor Virender Sehwag rated the new-look team as the best of all seasons.
“We have the best side, if I compare last ten years," Sehwag said, adding that the team is a balanced one with a right mix of Indian and foreign players.
Punjab’s captain in the previous season, Glenn Maxwell will now turn up for the opposition side and so will Rahul Tewatia and Gurkeerat Mann.
Both Sehwag and head coach Brad Hodge heaped praise on Ashwin, even though captaining an IPL side may be the off-spinner’s maiden role, and feel that a “smart cricketer" like him will inspire the team.
K L Rahul, who was bought for Rs 11 crore by KXIP, is focused to help the team lift its maiden title.
KXIP’s best finish in the decade-old tournament has been to reach the finals in 2014.
Inconsistency in their performance has been a cause of concern for the Punjab outfit and the team will have to overcome this aspect if they want to finish on top this time.
There can be a fair amount of spotlight on players like 17-year-old Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and 24-year-old all-rounder from Kashmir, Manzoor Dar, the second cricketer after Parveez Rasool from the Kashmir Valley to make it to the IPL.
Delhi Daredevils share similarities with Punjab team, as they too have struggled in the last few seasons.
DD’s head coach Ricky Ponting has exuded optimism and said that he doesn’t care about his team’s dismal record over 10 editions of IPL as he believes that the “fresh group" of players have it in them to win a maiden title this season.
Delhi reached semi-finals twice in their first three seasons.
The Gautam Gambhir-led side has an ideal mix of youth and experience. Gambhir has helped his previous outfit Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to clinch titles on two occasions.