In a shock to many, the Universe Boss – Chris Gayle had gone unsold in the first two round of this year’s IPL auction before Kings XI Punjab bid for him in the third and final round. Gayle, who wasn’t retained by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for IPL 2018, had thrown his hat into the auction ring with a base price of INR 2 crores and the Punjab-based franchise roped him in by expending the same amount.
Likewise, veteran India batsman Yuvraj Singh was also bought at a base price of INR 2 crores by the Preity Zinta co-owned franchise. The last minute bid on Gayle and the fact that no other team showed interest in Yuvi clearly indicate that they are no longer considered as match-winners. Nonetheless, KXIP director and mentor Virender Sehwag isn’t aggrieved at all.
"It is great that they have come to us at their base price. It is surely a bargain. Who knows if there were more bidders, they could have gone as high as $1 million. They are big names and match winners, even if they win two-three games for us, we would get the return on investment," Sehwag quoted by PTI as saying.
While Yuvraj seems to be a certain candidate in KXIP’s batting line-up, Gayle is not quite sure of his place as Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch are likely to form a potent opening combination. As of now, Gayle is only certain to play the first game against Delhi Daredevils on April 8 as Finch won’t be available because of his wedding.
"Finch is not available for the first game so most likely Gayle will play in his place. So the opening game is not a problem but we have a big headache after that. We will all sit together and take the call. I believe Finch is such a player that he can play anywhere," Sehwag revealed.
In the 10-year long history of the tournament, KXIP have qualified only twice in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how the combination of new players will fare for the Punjab based franchise in this season. Viru though is rather optimistic of his team’s chances this year.
"The kind of team we have this year, we can win the championship. We have spent a lot of money on some of the players, so hopefully they will do the job. This surely is the best KXIP team in the last 10 years," Sehwag said.
Earlier, the KXIP sides used to be lacking the quality Indian players but this time there is a number of top-notch domestic players in the squad. Ravichandran Ashwin will lead the team that has Axar Patel, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Barinder Sran, Mohit Sharma and the in-form Mayank Agarwal in it.
"Last few years, our Indian players were not that good except Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel. That was one gap. If you want to win the IPL, you have to have good Indian players. We have four to five of them this time.
"We were also struggling with Indian batting line up which could hold the innings together. Guys like Rahul, Nair and Manoj Tiwary can hold the middle order. We have explosive openers in Gayle and Finch, and down the order we have David Miller. Hopefully, they will do well against spinners," concluded Sehwag.