With a greater salary cap than any other franchise of the VIVO Indian Premier League, Kings XI Punjab will be expected to spend graciously –- like a Punjabi family at a wedding -- at the auction on the December 18. We also have the most number of slots up for grabs (15) compared to others; and a few thrifty buys would be expected.
While the KXIP management will consider their own list of players, here is a look at a few who we at KXIP.in feel could fit well in the squad.
The man who kicked off the first season of the IPL with a blistering 158 will be hot property at the auction after being released by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Being only one of 5 players to have scored 2 centuries in the league, the explosive Kiwi batsman will add some great strength to the KXIP batting, while also doubling up as a specialist wicketkeeper for the team. Having retired from international cricket in 2016, the 37-year-old will be geared up and ready to go come the IPL. Signing with KXIP with see McCullum unite with coach Mike Hesson, who was New Zealand’s coach when they reached the 2015 World Cup final under McCullum’s captaincy.
The KXIP Factor: Because ever since Hesson, we have fallen in love with the Kiwis. Including the fruit.
Tall, pacy and willing to bend his back to get extra bounce even off batting friendly pitches, Ishant Sharma has proven what a class act he is on surfaces in India and overseas. He was seen wreaking havoc in the Tests in England and more recently in Australia, where he formed a lethal partnership with King XI Punjab’s spin Thalaiva Ravichandran Ashwin. After missing out in the previous edition of the IPL, Sharma will be dying to find a team where he can forge a successful new-ball partnership and the Andrew Tye-Ankit Rajpoot duo at KXIP could afford him just that.
The KXIP Factor: If you're tall, you can hurl the ball. Ishant is 6 feet 4...
The all-rounder from Gujarat has been with us since 2014 and has also won the ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ award in 2014 wearing KXIP colours. Although he was released this season, the KXIP management would be keen to buy him back strategically. With a tidy economy rate of only 6.79 in T20 Internationals, the left arm bowler would be a good addition to have in our team alongside spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Keen to force a comeback into the Indian team, this Gujju lad would be determined to performing well in the IPL and Kings XI will give the 24-year-old a great chance to accomplish that.
The KXIP Factor: Axar may be a Patel, but munde da dil toh Punjabi hai.
After being released by Sunrisers Hyderabad, KXIP would love to target a homecoming for wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha; after the 34-year-old spent four years with the team from 2014 to 2017. Saha holds the record for the fastest T20 century ever after he scored a ton of just 20 deliveries in a domestic game when he scored 102 for his club side Mohun Bagan against BNR Recreation Club. With eyes on the 2019 World Cup and on retaining his place in the Test squad, Saha would be looking to capitalize on the IPL and is expected to go for big money but KXIP offers him a home and not a house.
The KXIP Factor: Because he is a real ‘keeper.’
Gurkeerat Singh Mann
Explosive with the bat and providing variety with the ball, Mann can be a very handy all-rounder to have in your side for the shortest format of the game. This Punjab da puttar played for Kings XI Punjab from 2012-2017, before switching to Delhi Daredevils. He has now been released by Delhi and will be up for grabs at the 2019 auction. His domestic calibre aside, Mann comes with the added experience of international cricket, having represented India in three One Day Internationals.
The KXIP Factor: Sadda munda coming back home? What more could we want?
Tanmay Mishra last played competitive cricket in 2013, but was nevertheless part of the Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore squads until 2015. Mishra also played in T20 Mumbai and got some quickfire starts in the league for his side. Mishra, who is a Kenyan citizen by birth, has played 42 ODIs for the Kenyan international team; but can now be acquired as a home citizen for the IPL after acquiring an Indian passport.
The KXIP Factor: Because it’s too tempting to pass off the opportunity to play 5 ‘overseas’ players.
When it comes to genuine pace, there are few who can wield that weapon as effectively as Varun Aaron. The 38 wickets he has picked up the IPL so far are testament to this and, with a few more wickets this season, he could break into the top cadre of the league’s fast bowlers. He bagged 18 wickets from 8 matches in the recent domestic season and that too in conditions where the slower bowlers were expected to do the most damage, thus showcasing his class once the ball is handed to him. A former KXIP player, he could soon find his place among the Kings once again, and won’t that be something he will look forward to!
The KXIP Factor: Because we’ve gotten used to having an Aaron in the squad now.
Shaun SOS Marsh is one of the top run-getter for Kings XI Punjab and has also proven his quality by scoring a century for us. With the quality we have at the top of our order, including our two centurion openers Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul, Marshy would fit right in to add some stability to an already strong batting order. A rock in the middle over, his presence could mean that the lower order doesn’t have to come in to bat very often which will leave them fresh and raring to go when they get the ball. Being a mainstay of the KXIP middle-order between 2010-14, Marsh has already ‘Shaun’ that he is a force to be reckoned with.
The KXIP Factor: When it comes to this Aussie, Asi don’t have to think twice.
The left arm spinner rose to prominence after he picked up six wickets in the 2018 ACC Under-19 Asia Cup against Sri Lanka; being adjudged man of the match for his game-winning performance. Tyagi was leading wicket-taker for the tournament, with 11 scalps. In a short period of time, the young spinner has left his mark on the cricketing world and KXIP would be an ideal club for the young spinner, considering the plethora of experience Tyagi has to better his game.
The KXIP Factor: We are looking for an Ashwin of the North.
22-year-old Kuldeep Sen is a right arm medium pacer hailing from Reva, Madhya Pradesh. In just his third Ranji game, Sen picked up his maiden five-wicket haul against Punjab; and followed that up with two second innings wickets as well. Since his debut last month the young seamer has picked up 21 wickets in a mere five matches. With such an impressive track record early on, Sen would be a great asset to add to the KXIP bandwagon.
The KXIP factor: We want a Kuldeep of our own!
Pathania was the leading wicket-taker for his team Services in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare trophy. The 29-year-old medium pace bowler has 19 wickets in 10 domestic T20 matches so far, and also boasts a stellar economy rate of 6.66. He shone in the longer format too, recording the second-best figures by an Indian on First-Class debut when he picked match-haul of 13/83 against Jharkhand in 2015. Pathania would be a good domestic player to have; and could be used as a handy bowler for the middle overs.
The KXIP Factor: The power of a Pathan and the energy of a Punjabi, too good to pass up Diwesh Pathania.
NOTE (UPDATE): This is a perspective put forth by the editorial team and not reflective of the choices made by the Kings XI Punjab management.
The players considered in the auction are subject to change accounting for events leading up to and during the auction. This includes availability, team chemistry, budgets, balance and other myriad factors.