Auction day 1 came to an end and Kings XI Punjab would be very happy with how their squad for this season is shaping up. They have a good mix of youth and experience, with a perfect balance between bat and ball. Viru paaji had made it amply clear before the auction that the team will look for a number of young Indian cubs to add to the pride and he seems to have followed through with that idea, picking up K. L. Rahul, Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal to lead the batsmen and Ankit Singh Rajpoot in the bowling department.

Seeking local talent

“This season we are targeting good Indian talent because the past 3-4 years that has been missing from our team. We were hoping to get a few more Indian players this year.”

The focus on Indian talent was clear from the start when they picked up Ravichandran Ashwin as their first buy of the auction. The right arm off spinner had been described by Sehwag as one of the smartest spinner he had seen and his combination with the young Axar Patel will be interesting to watch. In the end the Kings finished with six Indian players in the squad, which was the combination Sehwag was looking for all along.

From beyond the seas

“The focus was on getting 5-7 good Indians before going for foreign players. That’s the best combination for KXIP.”

Among the foreign players, the aggressive Sehwag focussed on getting more players like himself, who had the ability to clear the fence and get the team off to a flyer. Aaron Finch and David Miller made the cut based on their reputation as big hitters of the cricket ball.

Striking performances

“History shows that if you have a good strike rate and if you bat 20-30 balls with a strike rate of 160-170 then you win a lot of games for your team. That is what even I and Brad (Hodge) were discussing, that we need at least two players who can bat with that kind of strike rate so that they win the game for us.”

Having been a part of the KXIP squad before taking over as the mentor, Paaji hopes the current crop of youngsters can help the team achieve what he couldn’t. No pressure, guys!

Building title hopes

“When I was a player I tried hard but I couldn’t get the team to the finals but hopefully as their mentor and director of cricket I can help them win at least twice. My vision is to at least win 1-2 titles in the next 5 years because we are building the team for the next 5 years. So we want match winners who can win the championship for us.”