Kings XI Punjab have made full use of the VIVO Indian Premier League auction by picking up explosive players all around, exemplifying their aggressive and fearless Punjabi values. The team now has the happy problem of deciding which two batsmen will take on the other team’s bowlers first. With all the batsmen going all dhols blazing, the race could get pretty intense. Here we try and find the team a solution in an attempt to see which Lions will get to taste first blood.
1. A perfect storm: Chris Gayle and Aaron Finch
Two of the game’s most fiery run-machines coming out to open is the stuff of nightmares for bowlers. Universe Boss Chris Gayle, who holds the record for the highest score and most number of sixes in the IPL, and Aaron Finch, Australia’s secret weapon at the top of the order, form a dream opening combination for any team. Their ability to clear the fence at will and play the big innings makes this opening partnership ‘the perfect storm’.
Pros: Most aggressive batting pair in the team.
Cons: Scorekeepers may protest the additional workout they would be getting.
2. An explosive opening: Aaron Finch and Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal is a man on fire when it comes to his recent domestic run for his state side of Karnataka. The explosive opener’s appetite for runs is matched only by his clean striking ability. His combination with Aaron Finch will give the team the option of fielding an additional foreign player in the middle order or in the bowling department. If an explosive start is what the team is after, they need look no further than the Aaron-Agarwal team.
Pros: Steady acceleration guaranteed.
Cons: With both batsmen going after the bowling, the fans will need to protect themselves from the rain of sixes.
3. A balanced run-diet: Chris Gayle and K.L. Rahul
The Gayle storm’s aggression, tempered with the watchful elegance of Lokesh Rahul provides ample balance at the top of the order. Rahul’s ability to dig in and rotate the strike while punishing the bad balls will allow Chris to free his arms and dominate the bowling from the word go. And everyone knows that once Gayle gets in, then carnage is afoot. The two have opened together in the past so it won’t be an altogether new proposition for them. However, it could be an altogether deadly proposition for the opponents.
Pros: A good balance between attack and defence.
Cons: Other KXIP batsmen may complain that they aren’t getting a look-in if the two regularly play till the end.
4. A pinch of hitting: Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch
If pinch-hitting is the order of the day, then Marucs Stoinis is the man for the job. As an all-rounder who is exceptional in both departments, Stoinis can give the team an early push with some big strikes in the Powerplay. Given a free rein to go after the bowling can lead to some big scores up top by Stoinis, which can deflate the bowling team’s confidence early. Coupled with the aggressive Finchy, who is a more conventional opener with the ability to see off any losses of early wickets, the two could make for an interesting team, especially when the Kings need to spring a surprise on their opponents.
Pros: Quick start with minimal risk of a batting order collapse.
Cons: Stoinis might shine as a regular opener giving the Australian national side too many options.
5. A Southern special: Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul
Karnataka boys Mayank Agarwal and K.L. Rahul have plenty of experience of playing together in the domestic circuit. They have been involved in the team’s recent Vijay Hazare Trophy victory and will be looking to get the same glory for the Sher-e-Punjab. Agarwal’s fiery stroke play and Rahul’s understanding of the game and situation makes them ideal partners. Having two Indian openers will also allow the middle order to be fortified with players like Finch and David Miller, who love taking on the spinners in the middle overs.
Pros: One of the most proven Indian opening pairs in the competition.
Cons: Punjabi fans will have to divide their love for the team with Karnataka fans.