Dubai: At any given time over the years, Kings XI Punjab have boasted of the best of batting stars in their line-up, but have flattered to deceive on most occasions.
Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Adam Gilchrist and Kumar Sangakkara have been among the stars who have worn the Kings XI Punjab jersey on various occasions, but their best has never been good enough to fetch them a title even once in the past 12 years.
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The IPL in 2018 held out a huge promise. Kings XI Punjab were quick off the blocks winning their first five games, but then came the dip and they managed just one win in eight matches - failing to even qualify for the play-offs. It was the same sort of situation last season.
The best from Kings XI Punjab was a runner-up spot way back in 2014 and a place in the semi-finals during the inaugural edition in 2008. The franchise owners have made a few changes in their squad for 2020, starting off with a new leader in the form of KL Rahul and a master tactician in Anil Kumble as the head coach.
The captain was one of the few revelations of 2018 as he led the KXIP run charts with over 650 runs, along with six half-centuries, that included a few 90-plus scores. The hope this season will be that together with the hard-hitting Chris Gayle, Rahul will form a potent opening combination that would take the attack to the opposition.
Along with the destructive forces of Gayle and Rahul, the solid middle order of Glenn Maxwell, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and allrounder Jimmy Neesham, they have the class and power to deliver on many an occasion. Karnataka allrounder Krishnappa Gowtham, who came from Rajasthan Royals, is an useful acquisition as the 31-year-old can be a handful on his day.
Leading the KXIP bowling unit will be Mohammed Shami, along with West Indian Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan, promising Ishan Porel while Murugan Ashwin, Mujib ur Rahman will lend support in spin.
The last time here in 2014, KXIP won all five matches here and went on to end as the eventual runners-up, their best showing so far. All that is needed from the KXIP outfit is consistency, often found wanting in them, to challenge the likes of early favourites Mumbai Indians or Chennai Super Kings and first enter the play-offs.
That in itself, will be a tough ask. But should they do it, anything may happen from there.
Main men: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul
Indian Premier League wins: None (Best was Runners-up in 2014)
Champions League T20 wins: None (Best was semi-finals in 2014)
Captain: KL Rahul
Owners: Mohit Burman, Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, Karan Paul
Coaches: Anil Kumble (Head Coach); Andy Flower (Assistant Coach); Wasim Jaffer (Batting Coach); Charl Langeveldt (Bowling Coach); Jonty Rhodes (Fielding Coach)
Squad: KL Rahul (C); Karun Nair; Chris Gayle; Mayank Agarwal; Mandeep Singh; Sarfaraz Khan; Deepak Hooda; Glenn Maxwell; James Neesham; Tajinder Singh; Nicholas Pooran; Prabhsimran Singh; Mujeeb Ur Rahman; Murugan Ashwin; Harpreet Brar; Krishnappa Gowtham; Jagadeesha Suchith; Ravi Bishnoi; Mohammed Shami; Hardus Viljoen; Darshan Nalkande; Arshdeep Singh; Sheldon Cottrell; Chris Jordan; Ishan Porel.