Kings XI Punjab may not have won the IPL till now but the entertainment and thrill they have provided to their fans is certainly unbeatable. The team from Punjab is one of the original franchises from the first auction and are yet to win the tournament.
Punjab is one of the only two original teams from 2008 (Delhi being the other) who still have no silverware to show for despite reaching semi-finals and finals on several occasions. They would desperately bank on these five quintessential professionals to pass on the dimly-lit baton of Kings XI Punjab from IPL 2018 onwards.
The Preity Zinta owned side will be looking forward to the 2018 auctions to add new players to the squad. However, there are some jewels in her team that she would surely not want lose.
Here are the players that Kings XI Punjab should absolutely retain (3 retention + 1 RTM card) for the 2018 season:
1. Glenn Maxwell
The only time Kings XI Punjab put up a solid show with the bat and as a team was the 2014 edition and Maxwell was their undisputed star.
He lit up the Abu Dhabi edition of the Indian Premier league by scoring 95, 89 and 95 runs in 3 consecutive matches. Bought for ₹6 crore in 2014, Maxwell was the 3rd highest run getter in the tournament scoring 552 runs for his team in that edition. Overall, he has scored 1228 runs at an average of 25 and strike rate of 164.39 in 57 matches in the IPL.
Maxwell had a decent time in this IPL as he smashed 310 runs at a strike 174 in the middle-order and also picked important wickets.
KXIP should surely think of retaining him.
2. Hashim Amla
Before the tournament began, there was a school of thought which placed doubt in the ability of the titanic Protean batsman in the shortest format of the game. After his performances this season, he has laid to rest all the speculations regarding his scoring abilities, with a couple effortless tons in the group stages of the IPL.
Amla demonstrated that one doesn’t need the brute power of Lynn and Gayle to conquer hearts in this format as he briskly found gaps with the gift of his beautiful wrists and timing to score runs at express pace. It’s not every day you see a batsman score a couple of tons in the IPL, and with his exhibition of shot-making this season, he is a certainty in the next few season wearing the red and silver of KXIP.
3. Axar Patel
The left hand batsman and slow left arm orthodox bowler is probably one of the most consistent all rounders in the IPL. Awarded as the “Emerging Player of the year” in 2014 edition for picking up 17 wickets, the Gujarat lad was rewarded for his performances with a maiden call up to the Indian Team.
With accuracy being his major weapon over spin, he has been highly effective in containing opponents when the situation demands.
Axar is no mug with the bat and has produced several late inning flourishes for his team. He has picked up 58 wickets in his IPL career at an economy of 7.4 runs per over while also scoring 606 runs in the process.
With so much depth in their ranks, KXIP can definitely be the dark horses in IPL 2018.
4. Sandeep Sharma
So much has been spoken of KXIP’s batting that people often fail to recognize the brilliance of Sandeep Sharma in an otherwise ordinary bowling attack. The swing bowler from Punjab is capable of swinging the ball both ways has been one of the mainstays of the team.
Picking up 71 wickets in 56 IPL games at an economy of 7.7 runs per over speaks volumes about the consistency of a bowler who bowls predominantly in the power plays and at the death. His best figures were 4/20, which came only last season against the Delhi Daredevils.
And all this is even better considering he is only 24 years old. Retaining Sharma in this IPL could clearly be one of the most straightforward decisions the team management has to take.