Dubai: Kings XI Punjab will be eagerly looking to solve a vexing middle-order issue as they weigh-in their options of fronting their strongest squad starting with their opener against the Delhi Capitals in Dubai on Sunday.
Using their social media platform, the Kings XI Punjab have been trying to arrive at their best possible playing XI first for their opener this Sunday.
They have dissected their entire squad and put down three different options of what they feel is the best XI that would fulfil the aspirations of a team who are yet to win the title. Apart from the 2014 season when they topped the league table and finished runners-up, the team have made only one other play-off appearance in their 12 seasons so far.
The KXIP team management made a few shrewd picks in and before the auctions, while roping in Indian all-rounders like Deepak Hooda, Krishnappa Gowtham and Tajinder Singh. All of these players would be a good shout for the team’s lower middle order, alongside seasoned batsman Mandeep Singh.
Another alternative for the team could be picking New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who offers a different dimension to his team with his seam bowling, while two others Harpreet Brar and Prabhsimran Singh could be good options to play those cameo roles in the slog overs.
Historically, KXIP have always had a strong top order, arguably having the best opening pair in the IPL in Chris Gayle and new skipper KL Rahul. Following up this destructive duo would be a good bunch of Indian batsmen in Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan — all of whom had good domestic seasons in 2019-2020.
In terms of overseas players, KXIP splashed the cash and got back Glenn Maxwell, and he would be an ideal fit for the team in that middle overs slot. Another player would do well in that top order slot would be West Indies wicketkeeper batsman Nicholas Pooran, who is fresh off the back of a brilliant show in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
The KXIP could be one of the teams benefiting from the IPL being played in the UAE, mainly due to their varied choices in their spin department. Murugan Ashwin was the second most economical bowler in the 2019 IPL edition and Mujeeb ur Rahman was the second highest wicket-taker in the 2020 CPL that concluded last week.
The team has further bulked up their spin department by adding Jagadeesha Suchith and Ravi Bishnoi alongside part-timers like Hooda, Brar and Maxwell.
In the fast bowling front, KXIP have recent acquisitions Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan and last season’s sensation Hardus Viljoen in terms of overseas picks. While all three might not be able to play together on most occasions, the team is also well stocked with Mohammad Shami, Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh and Darshan Nalkande giving the selectors a happy headache.
Option 1: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Jimmy Neesham, Chris Jordan, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammad Shami, Arshdeep Singh
Option 2: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Glen Maxwell, Mandeep Singh, Krishnappa Gowtham, Tajinder Singh, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande, Mohammad Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Option 3: Prabhsimran Singh, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Jimmy Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jagadeesha Suchith, Sheldon Cottrell, Murugan Ashwin, Hardus Viljoen, Ishan Porel