Kings XI Punjab went into the IPL 2018 auction with just one player retained prior to the auction. They had only Akshar Patel as the sole player in the squad and KXIP spent big in the auctions.
They bought the likes of R Ashwin (Rs 7.6 cr), KL Rahul (Rs 11 cr), Aaron Finch (Rs 6.2 cr), Karun Nair (Rs 5.6 cr), Andrew Tye (Rs 7.2 cr), and Marcus Stoinis (Rs 6.2 cr), spending majority of their purse on day one of the auction. On day two of the auction, they got two big names for their base prices and these players have had a major impact on the T20 game. The two players that KXIP snatched for the base price was Chris Gayle.
They then went ahead and named R Ashwin as their captain for the IPL 2018 season, a decision which had Virender Sehwag written all over it. Let’s have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Kings XI Punjab team, which may affect their chances to win the tournament or not.
Let's have a look at the strengths of the KXIP
STRENGTHS OF KXIP:
The Kings XI Punjab have formed a formidable squad for the IPL 2018. They have covered almost all the bases in order to ensure that they succeed in their mission to win the IPL 2018. Owner Preity Zinta and coach Virender Sehwag came in with a plan and spent on specific players.
They had always looked for batting that they could rely on and this time they invested heavily in batting and possibly have the scariest batting lineup in the IPL 2018.
Imagine Chris Gayle pairing up with Aaron Finch/ KL Rahul and then the likes of Karun Nair, Yuvraj Singh, Manoj Tiwary and David Miller following up. Though RCB passed up Chris Gayle due to his age and slowing reflexes; KXIP bought him for the impact he has on the game and even if he wins them 2-3 games in the season, his contribution can be vital.
The same thing goes for Yuvraj Singh as well. He was very good when SRH won the IPL title and KXIP will hope that he does the same for them. Yuvraj also provides them with the option of bowling 1-2 overs every match.
KL Rahul and Karun Nair have already impressed with their exploits in the IPL and foreign players like Finch, Miller, and Stoinis will be assisting in making KXIP a force to reckon with. Mayank Agarwal, who had a great domestic season, will have a chance to push for India team berth if he gets chances to play in the team.
Though the bowling unit of the team looks spin heavy with the likes of Ashwin, Yuvraj, Akshar and the young Afghan sensation Mujeeb; they have pace in Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Barinder Sran and foreign bowlers like Stoinis and Tye.
Now we look at some of the weaknesses that can prove a hurdle in KXIP plans
The biggest weakness in the KXIP team is that amidst spending big bucks on buying the best batsmen and bowlers, they forgot to invest in a decent wicketkeeper. Though KL Rahul will be entrusted with the job of keeping wickets, something he did with success for RCB; a lack of proper wicketkeeper can come back to haunt KXIP.
KL Rahul is a part-time keeper and if he misses a catch or stumping of MS Dhoni or Virat Kohli or AB de Villiers, at a crucial juncture of the match, it can prove to be hazardous for the Kings XI Punjab team.
The next weakness will be the selection conundrum that the team management will face every time they sit to pick their XI. Since there are only four foreigners allowed in a playing XI, and if KXIP chooses to open with Gayle and Finch, they will have to sacrifice either a Miller or Stoinis or a proper bowler to keep either of them in the XI.
Miller being a right to match addition is likely to feature in every game. So the selection dilemma remains a concern for Punjab.
BEST BUY OF THE AUCTION
The best buy of the auction for KXIP proved to be the Jamaican Chris Gayle, who they got in the final round of the IPL 2018 auction for his base price of Rs 2 cr.
With RCB and other teams giving up on Gayle, KXIP swooped in to buy him at the last moment. Though Gayle is 39 years old and his reflexes have slowed in recent times; he has played some exploding innings for West Indies and even if he fires in 3-4 matches, KXIP will have the edge in those matches over their opposition.
Kings XI Punjab is a very formidable team with a brilliant squad with its strengths and weaknesses. Under the leadership of R Ashwin, who is regarded as one of the best cricketing minds in cricket currently, KXIP will be expected to do extremely well in IPL 11.
They can easily make it to the play-offs stage and maybe even make it to the finals, if they can solve their playing XI problem and experience no major injury issues.
KINGS XI PUNJAB SQUAD 2018:
Akshar Patel (retained 12.5 crore), R Ashwin (7.6 cr- Captain), Yuvraj Singh (2 c), Karun Nair (5.6 c), KL Rahul (11 c), David Miller (3 c), Aaron Finch (6.2 c), Marcus Stoinis (6.2 c), Mayank Agarwal (1 c), Ankit Rajpoot (3 c), Manoj Tiwary (1 Cr), Mohit Sharma (2.4 Cr RTM), Mujeeb Zadran (4 Cr), Barinder Sran (2.2 Cr), Andrew Tye (7.2 Cr), Akshdeep Nath (1 Cr), Ben Dwarshius (1.4 Cr), Pardeep Sahu (20L), Mayank Dagar (20L), Chris Gayle (2 Cr), Manzoor Dar (20 L)