Their best finish so far in the IPL was a semi final appearance in the 2008 edition and since then they have firmly established themselves as a mid to lower table team, with occasional flashes of brilliance. The problems with the team’s ownership structure seems to have hit hard since their activities in the yearly auctions have become far more conservative since the heady days of 2008 when they used to be a star studded line up with the likes of Brett Lee, Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawerdene and Kumar Sangakkara. However none of those players are a part of the team anymore and the present crop is completely different. So let us take a quick look at their squad.
Adam Gilchrist, Parwinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Siddharth Chitnis, Aniket Chaudhury, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat Singh, Harmeet Singh, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Masceranhas, David Miller, Michael Nesar, Luke Pomersbach, Nitin Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Rajagopal Sathish, Suny Singh, Paul Valtathy, Manan Vohra, Ryan Harris.
The Kings XI Punjab squad gives you the impression that it is a squad that has been assembled with a lot of thought since most of the overseas players like David Hussey, Masceranhas, Pomersbach and Azhar Mahmood are T20 specialists of sorts and an addition of hugely talented young batsmen like Shaun Marsh and David Miller makes it a team that can never be taken lightly. However, the bowling attack has not been farmed up as well as one would have wished and barring the exception of the injury prone Ryan Harris, most of the other bowlers could be classified as inconsistent.
Although there is a degree of uncertainty whether he will continue as captain, it can be said that Adam Gilchrist has proven to be a good captain for the Kings XI Punjab but the only problem is that he looked woefully out of match practice in IPL VI, which meant that one overseas player’s slot was being blocked. However, in some matches Gilchrist made the sensible decision of dropping himself to make way for Shaun Marsh and David Hussey led the team. Although there is no guarantee whether he would be retained by the franchise, Hussey did show good leadership skills and it appears he would be a good captain if given a longer run. In a nutshell, the captaincy corundum has not been worked out yet.
The strength of the Kings XI Punjab outfit lies in their top order and if Gilchrist is not in the playing eleven, then the opening pair of Shaun Marsh and Mandeep Singh is quite a handful for any opposition. The middle order consisting of David Hussey, David Miller and Azhar Mahmood should be considered explosive in any tournament. Putting a big score is not a problem for this team. Additionally, the younger members of the team like Mandeep and Manan Vohra are outstanding fielders who end up saving at least 5-10 runs per innings. In the bowling department, the presence of Ryan Harris is vital and with a new ball partner like Praveen Kumar, they pair have the capability of rocking any top order early.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Kings XI Punjab is squad depth since they do not have the option of drafting in someone who is equally as good if someone from the regular eleven is unable to play and that is primarily due to the fact that barring Mandeep Singh, none of the local Indian batsmen have been able to do anything special. Paul Valtathy, for example, was regarded as a future star after that outstanding century in IPL 2011 but he has not been able to deliver on the promise. Manan Vohra is inconsistent and beyond that, the likes of Gurkeerat Singh and R. Sathish are primarily bits and pieces cricketers who cannot influence a game in any big way. The franchise has its work cut out in next year’s auctions. Their fortunes depend on it.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source: Kings XI Punjab