Dubai: Jonty Rhodes, the South African fielding great, is keen on a winning comeback into the Indian Premier League (IPL) as he backed his Kings XI Punjab side to go all the way in the IPL in the UAE starting later this month.
Apart from the 2014 season when they topped the league table but went on to finish runners-up, the team has made only one other play-off appearance in their 12 seasons of the IPL so far.
However, the outfit has undergone a sort of revamp and the squad has a far better balanced feel than previous years with a certain deliberate reliance on certain players.
Stars like skipper KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Krishnappa Gowtham and Mohammed Shami form a solid Indian core, backed with the addition of top-quality overseas stars in the form of Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan and Sheldon Cottrell.
In the back office, the Kings XI Punjab have drafted former Indian captain and master tactician Anil Kumble as head coach along with the Australian duo of Brett Lee and Rhodes, who is convinced his side is going to be a handful this season.
“From an energy perspective, I always look to the senior players to lead because there are some talented young players like Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda and some great fielders,” Rhodes said in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of the team.
“But it’s guys like [Mohammed] Shami who, for me, are so important to this outfit because they are often looked up to and respected in very high regard, especially in Indian cricketing circles. If they are setting high standards, then young players, it’s easier for them to follow. So it’s great to see Shami speed to the ball, great technique and just showing the younger guys that he’s still got something left in the tank,” the 51-year-old South African star added.
This will be Rhodes’ first stint with the Kings XI Punjab as he is making a return to the IPL after a break of two seasons away following his stint with the Mumbai Indians.