IPL 2020 preview: A new-look KXIP have a task at hand as underdogs
KXIP are one of the three sides to have never won the IPL so far. They have qualified for the playoffs just twice to date, having finished as the runners-up in 2014, losing to KKR in the final. The side would be led by KL Rahul this season, which would be his first outing as captain.
The Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) are one of the finest teams every season, at least on paper. However, they have succumbed most of the seasons, finishing outside top-four, despite showing promising signs of going all the way.
Come this season, KXIP are once again a well-bolstered squad in all departments, with mostly a fresh new look. While they traded out their skipper from last season, Ravichandran Ashwin, they have passed on the duties to Indian opener KL Rahul, who would be leading in the IPL for the first time.
During the auction for the upcoming season, KXIP ensured to rope in some big overseas talent, along with some fine young guns from India. In the same light, we have a look at their team and analyse their chances this season.
Inconsistency, despite promising starts: One of the unique characteristics of the side is that they show promising starts. However, they have barely managed to keep up with the momentum, as they always fall just short of the playoffs spot. Having finished fifth and bottom on three occasions, they have never clicked as a unit.
Players to watch out- Mujeeb Ur Rahman: The reason for him to watch out is simple. The tournament is being played in the UAE, as the tracks usually tend to be on the slower side. And, being the prime spinner in the side, Mujeeb is likely to create severe impact. Furthermore, his fine form for Afghanistan, having claimed 14 wickets in 10 T20Is since IPL 2019, at an economy of 6.91, is just compelling enough to see him perform.
Rahul: Although this is likely to be the spinner's tournament, KL Rahul's exquisite batting form of late makes him a must-watch, as he has a knack of playing well on spinning tracks. Furthermore, with this being his first-ever outing as the captain, it would be interesting to see how he handles pressure, along with his gameplay, as this could also be his first-ever make or break chance as the skipper.
Glenn Maxwell: The precise Australian pinch-hitter can play as per the conditions. He also has a knack of performing in the UAE. In case one remembers, he was all guns blazing during the 2014 season, which was partially held in the UAE. Although KXIP had no idea that this season would be played in the gulf, this could be an unintentional boon for them.
Mohammed Shami: Shami is one of the finest pacers in the Indian team right now. Known for his lethal seam, he could trouble the batsmen in any given condition or format. As a result, he is most likely to make an impact on the tracks of Abu Dhabi, since the venue assists the seamers, as the stadium is open to the breeze passing by.
Squad: KL Rahul (c & wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Mohammad Shami, Mujeeb Zadran, Sheldon Cottrell, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sarfraz Khan, K Gowtham, J Suchith, Ravi Bishnoi, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Dhillon, Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Murugan Ashwin.
2020 prediction: Although the side looks a strong one on the paper, their biggest problem has been their consistency and gelling as a unit for long. Considering their tradition, chances look slim for them to make it to the playoffs again, as they would positively need a miracle to make that happen.