India’s domestic T20 tournament, Indian Premier League (IPL), is still a couple of months away but the fact that all the franchises would have to buy players again, barring the retained ones, has already sent team owners to their think room. While the names of retained players were out on January 4, the teams are now making strategies for the auction which is scheduled to take place on January 27-28 in Bengaluru.
Kings XI Punjab, who retained only one player – left-arm spinner Axar Patel for Rs 6.5 crore, are eyeing to buy South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis and make him the skipper as well. The right-hander, who has been associated with Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiant in past, remains to be one of the most established batsmen in world cricket.
The Kings did not have a great decade in terms of results and have tried many players in the skipper’s role.
KXIP CEO, Satish Menon, however, is still upbeat about the side and was enthusiastic about the change of fortunes for them in the 2018 season.
“The good thing about the fate is that it will change one day. Last few years haven’t been good for us. Fans still supported the team during the bad times. And they want better. You may never know that we might resurge in this season with Faf du Plessis as the Kings XI Punjab’s skipper,” Menon was quoted as saying by Cricket Addictor.
One of the biggest surprises of the IPL player retention was Kings XI Punjab’s decision to retain just one player. They opted to go with Axar Patel ahead of several T20 superstars as they look to build a team that could help them claim their maiden IPL title.
Retaining only one player allows them to use three RTM cards in the auction and with players such as David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Hashim Amla, Marcus Stoinis and Sandeep Sharma in the pool, the Punjab team will look to bring all their three cards into play.
With the Sunrisers Hyderabad not retaining veteran Indian all rounder Yuvraj Singh, he might find himself back playing for his first club – Kings XI Punjab, who retained only Axar Patel.
Yuvraj was with the Kings XI for the first three seasons before moving to the Pune Warriors India.
With the auctions coming up in a few weeks, Virender Sehwag and the rest of the team management will probably look to rope in Yuvraj, who has been one of India’s most successful T20I players.
Yuvraj, who is currently playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, which is the domestic T20 tournament held in India, has been in decent form with 85 runs in two matches, including a half-century in a nail-biting victory against the Delhi Daredevils.
However, he was not at his fearsome best as his strike-rate was just above 100.
He has been quite inconsistent with the bat over the past year or so, with just a few notable performances for the Indian cricket team.
He performed decently well in the IPL last year with 252 runs in 12 innings at an average of 28.
Overall, he has played 120 matches in the IPL and has scored 2587 runs at an average of 25.61 and a strike-rate of 131.18.
He could be a worthy addition to the Kings XI side, who have been struggling over the past few years. He would bring in a lot of experience with him and he would also be able to guide the youngsters in the side.
A move the to the Kings XI will also work really well with the fans, since Yuvraj belongs to Mohali.
Going into the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kings XI Punjab franchise will continue with Mohali as their principle home venue, with Indore being the second choice. Mohali, will host four of the seven home games, while Indore will see the other three home games for the Kings XI Punjab.
This decision came about after matters related to the security arrangements between the Punjab Government and Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) last year, had been resolved.
In August 2017, the Kings XI Punjab had asked the BCCI to allow them to shift from Mohali because of a lack of support from the PCA and the local authorities. KXIP also complained that a lack of fans had resulted in low revenue.
“We wanted to shift our base from Mohali but the main issue regarding the security has been resolved between the government and the Punjab Cricket Association. We are happy to be play in Mohali as there is different energy there,” Satish Menon, the franchise’s chief executive officer told The Indian Express.
“We will be playing four games in Mohali and the remaining three in Indore. It has been a good venue for us, and the response has been great as we have seen packed houses last year,” Menon added.
Ahead of the player retention for IPL 2018, Kings XI Punjab director Virender Sehwag admitted that they will retain just one player and use the Right To Match (RTM) cards to keep players who have been incredibly consistent for the franchise.
Speaking ahead of the player retention, Sehwag said: “We are planning to retain one player and use our Right To Match (RTM) cards for players who have done well for us like Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Hashim Amla, Sandeep Sharma or Mohit Sharma. We are planning to use all our RTM cards. We would like to pick new talent. We have done it in the past with Sandeep Sharma or Axar Patel.’’
Kings XI Punjab narrowly missed out on making it through to the playoffs for IPL 2017 as they finished fifth, just two points behind Kolkata Knight Riders in the group stage. KXIP have only qualified for the playoffs twice in the 10 year history of the tournament. They made the semi-final of the inaugural edition of the tournament and finished runners-up in the 2014 edition.
“We want to rebuild the whole franchise. It is up to Brad Hodge, Viru and his team to deliver,” Wadia added.
The player retention event will take place in Mumbai on Thursday and it will be telecast live on Star Sports from 7pm.
Considering the amount of money that they will have to spend to retain three players, Kings XI Punjab’s policy of just retaining one player certainly makes sense. While they have some consistent performers, there haven’t been too many standout players and starting off with a clean slate makes a lot of sense and affords them with the purse to pursue the players that they want during the IPL Auction 2018.
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.