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IPL 9: Kings XI Punjab eye revival with new leadership

Vivek Mishra |Cricketnext |April 8, 2016, 4:48 PM IST
IPL 9: Kings XI Punjab eye revival with new leadership

After six disappointing seasons, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) finally looked like a formidable side under Sanjay Bangar's incisive behind-the-scenes management in Indian Premier League's (IPL) seventh edition in 2014. They made some smart buys in the auction and were the strongest contenders to win the title before losing it to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final of Season 7.

Glenn Maxwell and David Miller’s fearless hitting and Virender Sehwag’s presence in the squad made them one of the most popular teams in the league. But after their best performance in the IPL, KXIP saw a sudden decline and in the next season they lost 11 out of 14 matches under George Bailey’s captaincy to finish last.

Earlier this year, during the players' auction, the team focussed on getting young talent from India and not the big names from the international market. They have only got seven overseas players in their squad. Bailey was not retained and the flamboyant batsman from South Africa, David Miller, who signed for the team in 2011, was named as the replacement for the Aussie. Other than him, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson are the only foreign players to have been retained by the Mohali-based outfit.

KXIP are still looking for their first title and while Virender Sehwag (team's mentor now) and Bailey’s absence will hurt them, the inclusion of new players and a young leader - who is highly praised by Bangar - can change their fortune this time around.

STRENGTHS

Despite their unimpressive record in the last eight seasons, KXIP have always been known to have match-winners in their team. This time also they will bank upon players like Maxwell, Marsh, Murali Vijay, Miller and Manan Vohra to score most of the runs and take them to big scores. Wriddhiman Saha is a solid wicketkeeper-batsman and KXIP bat deep with players like Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Axar Patel and Johnson coming lower down the order. Maxwell and Miller, if they get going, can change a match in the matter of a few balls and have the capability to chase down any target. Sehwag will also play a big role in guiding the young batsmen.

Recently retired Johnson has been one of the quickest bowlers in the world and his performance will be crucial to Punjab's chances in the tournament. Johnson, who has more than 500 wickets in international cricket, will lead the bowling for KXIP and now that he is not playing for the national side, he will be available full time to make Punjab's bowling attack potent.

WEAKNESSES

Bowling has always been a problem for KXIP and we have seen their bowlers conceding 180-plus runs in most of the matches over the last 3-4 seasons. On many occasions, they have lost matches even after posting a 200-plus target. Giving away easy runs in death overs was one thing the side would want to improve on and signing Mohit Sharma for a whopping Rs 6.5 crore was a move in that direction. The inclusion of Mohit, South Africa’s Kyle Abott and Farhan Behardien will improve their bowling line-up to an extent but compared with the powerhouses in IPL, their attack still looks relatively weak.

Considering Marsh, Miller and Maxwell will play almost every match, there will be just one spot remaining for a foreign player in their playing XI and Johnson and Abbott are the likely candidates for that position. If Johnson gets a chance, then the other bowlers most likely will be Mohit, Sandeep Sharma and Axar. While Axar has been impressive with his spin, Sandeep needs help in the air and Mohit off the track to be effective but can be easy targets on flat decks.

Inconsistency as a unit has been the weak link in KXIP's performances. Even when they were winning matches consistently, it was due to individual performances from players like Maxwell, Miller and Marsh. The team needs to start firing in unison if they want to succeed this season.

KEY PLAYERS

Marsh has been the only player who has been with KXIP since the inception of the tournament and he is also their highest run-scorer. He can score at a quick pace and can also be the stabilizer when needed.

Maxwell was a sensation and became everyone’s favourite in the 2014 season when he scored 552 runs and played some amazing match-winning knocks. He, undoubtedly, will be one player the team will be relying on.

Axar picked up 17 wickets in the 2014 season and 13 in the following edition and is one of the most economical bowlers in the tournament. The left-arm spinner from Gujarat is known for breaking partnerships and will lead the team’s bowling attack along with Johnson.

CHANCES

They are not among the most balanced sides in the league but muscle power of Maxwell and Miller can take them through to the qualifiers.

SQUAD

David Miller (c), Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Manan Vohra, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Mitchell Johnson, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Kyle Abbott, KC Cariappa, Marcus Stoinis, Farhaan Behardien, Pradeep Sahu, Armaan Jaffer, Swapnil Singh.

Coach: Sanjay Bangar

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
AUS
7 6 1 0 12 +0.90
2
NZ
7 5 1 1 11 +1.02
3
IND
5 4 0 1 9 +0.80
4
ENG
7 4 3 0 8 +1.05
5
BAN
7 3 3 1 7 -0.13
6
PAK
7 3 3 1 7 -0.97
7
SL
6 2 2 2 6 -1.11
8
WI
6 1 4 1 3 +0.19
9
SA
7 1 5 1 3 -0.32
10
AFG
7 0 7 0 0 -1.63

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4674 111
5 Australia 4805 109
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more