With the 11th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) just a few weeks away, all the teams are busy in fine-tuning their squad and choosing their captains for the upcoming season. Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) mentor Virender Sehwag took to social media yesterday to announce Ravichandran Ashwin as the captain of the franchise. The decision shocked a quite a few cricket pundits and fans, as they believed that Yuvraj Singh would have been the first choice for the captaincy role given his seniority in the squad.
Always wanted a bowler to lead KXIP, says Sehwag
Clarifying the decision taken by KXIP, Virender Sehwag said that he had always wanted a bowler to lead the side just like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Kapil Dev. He suggested that seeing a bowler lead the team would be best from franchises perspective. Ashwin who was bought by the Kings XI Punjab for INR 7.6 crore in the January IPL auction was clearly thrilled at being selected to lead an IPL team.
The 31-year-old is aware of Yuvraj Singh’s presence in the squad and wants the left-hander to return to his old self, after struggling for form recently. The off-spinner believes that he can bring the best out of Yuvraj Singh and give his fans their superstar back.
“For me, it is all about Yuvi paaji trying to go out there and entertain the fans. It is very important we play an aggressive brand of cricket. And as far as I’m concerned, I would love to see him play freely and hit those big shots. I’m looking to give him as many overs as possible. I think he will be one of the best batsmen in our team,” Ashwin said while speaking with India Today.
Yuvraj Singh will not be a weapon only with the bat but is also a very useful bowler to have in the team. R Ashwin is also aware of his fielding expertise and believes that he will be his go-to man when in need for fielding tips or discussions. The 36-year-old hasn’t played for the Indian national team for a quite a while but is still a major force to reckon with when it comes to T20’s.
Yuvraj Singh an integral part of KXIP, says Ashwin
Speaking about Yuvraj Singh’s importance in Punjab’s young squad, Ashwin said, “More than anything else, I would love to see the pie chucker in Yuvi paaji. One of my strong points is to try and be innovative and try and change things up. And Yuvi paaji will be a very, very integral part of our team. He will be a very big lynchpin for me to try and go for sort of advice on the field.”
“The pie chucker in him is somebody that I really like. Many great batsmen including the likes of Kevin Pietersen couldn’t play him properly. We can utilise that and get a few big wickets this time.”
Kings XI Punjab, who reached the final of 2014 Indian Premier League did a fantastic job in the auction held in January. The managed to bring in star T20 players like Chris Gayle and Aaron Finch into the squad, but when asked about the team’s x-factor, Ashwin was clear that Yuvraj is still the main man for the franchise given his wealth of experience in the shortest format.
“He could well be that X-factor we are looking for, but having said that, he is a young guy and I really look forward to look (at) him up close,” said Ashwin.
Ashwin will not be predictable as KXIP captain
“You’ve got Chris Gayle, you’ve got Aaron Finch, both of whom can open the batting. Aaron Finch is batting lower down the order for Australia, that is some sort of an option which we can look to create. Generally, combinations with decent number of foreign bowlers and foreign batsmen – two and two will be a good combination. But with Stoinis around, we can look at playing three and one (overseas players). One thing you can be sure – I’ll never be predictable,” Ashwin concluded at the end.
Ashwin has picked up over 100 IPL wickets in his career and was one of the most important players in Chennai Super Kings squad before the team was suspended for two years. CSK tried their best to get the off-spinner back with them for the 11th season but Kings XI Punjab’s bid proved to be just a little out of reach.