After 10 disappointing years in the Indian Premier League, Kings XI Punjab will enter the 11th season of IPL with newfound confidence after a very successful IPL 2018 auction back in January. The team had only retained Axar Patel before the auction but managed to get back David Miller, Marcus Stoinis and Mohit Sharma through the use of RTM (Right to match) option. Experienced T20 players like Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle will be wearing the red of Punjab this season after sharing the dressing room together at RCB earlier. Even with experienced former captains in the team, the KXIP management decided to give the captaincy reign to Ravi Ashwin, who is yet to lead an IPL team in his career.
Indian international KL Rahul will be hoping to impress the selectors this season in order to make his place in the Indian team permanent. Apart from these international stars, the team also did well in buying some good Indian players like Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma and a couple more. The surprise pick for them was the 16-year-old Afghanistan bowler Mujeeb Zadran, who has been excellent for his national team since making his international debut.
Before we get into the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of Kings XI Punjab, let’s have a look at their squad and playing 11 that should walk out for their opening league match against Delhi Daredevils on 8th April. Keep in mind we will be taking into account the last 5 seasons of IPL and performances in recent T20 leagues.
Complete KXIP Squad for IPL 2018
Axar Patel, KL Rahul (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Singh Sran, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu and Mayank Dagar.
Probable KXIP Playing 11 for IPL 2018
Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran
IPL 2018: KXIP SWOT Analysis – Strengths
The biggest strength of Kings XI Punjab will be their explosive batting line-up and the spin combination of Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin. Aaron Finch ended the T20 tri-series with an astonishing strike-rate of over 230. Finch will not be available for the first game of KXIP but once he is back, he could explode on the scenes of IPL 2018. There are very few bowlers in the world who can stop the Australian opener. Having Yuvraj Singh and David Miller in the middle-order will give the team a chance to finish strong. According to the stats from last 5 IPL seasons, Yuvraj and Miller average a boundary in 3.5 and 4 balls respectively during the final 5 overs of the innings. A stat that makes them extremely dangerous in the death overs.
The other big strength for KXIP will be the spin combination of Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin with the former’s strike-rate being 22, while the latter is picking up a wicket after every 24 runs, only a handful of bowlers have done better than these two in the IPL. The duo isn’t only capable of picking up wickets at regular intervals but also have the ability to keep the run flow in check. The captain, however, is the master at preventing giving away runs. Ashwin’s economy over the last 5 season is just 6.75, phenomenal for any bowler bowling in a T20 match. Axar, on the other hand, is a tad more expensive but has a better strike-rate.
It’s not surprising to see why KXIP decided to retain Axar Patel for the upcoming season. The 24-year-old is an expert at picking up wickets for minimal runs during the 16-20 over mark. He is joined by Mohit Sharma on this list, given that the seamer’s strike-rate is just 9 in the final 4 overs.
The Kings XI Punjab are also heavily loaded when it comes to their bench strength, players like Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary and Ben Dwarshuis will be eager to come into the side and show the management what they can bring to this team. Kings XI Punjab are a very balanced team with an adequate cover on the bench.
Here is the how the Kings XI Punjab bowlers performed in IPL season 10
IPL 2018: KXIP SWOT Analysis – Weaknesses
Although KXIP has two quality spinners and maybe be the best T20 bowler in the world in Andrew Tye, the franchise still lacks that one standout Indian T20 bowler like a Jasprit Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Mohit Sharma and Barindra Sran are excellent bowlers on their day but have a wicked tendency to leak runs.
Mohit Sharma bowled around 45.4 overs last season and conceded 410 runs at an eye-watering economy rate of 8.97. Sran, on the other hand, has just played 16 matches in the IPL, where he has conceded runs at an economy of 8.75.
A big mistake that the franchise made during the auction was not picking up any wrist spinners in the squad, especially when that category of bowlers have flourished in the last couple of years. Both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were among the highest wicket-takers in the world last year, with the latter picking up 23 T20I wickets, more than any other bowler. The absence of wrist spinners will definitely give the opposition a slight advantage going into a match against KXIP.
The other big weakness for the KXIP team will be KL Rahul behind the wickets. The opener will be the first choice wicket-keeper for the team this season but unfortunately for him, his wicket-keeping skills hardly match up to his explosive batting style. With two wicket-taking spinners in the team, Rahul will have to be on his A game to finish any opportunity created by either Ashwin or Axar.
IPL 2018: KXIP SWOT Analysis – Opportunities
One would have to say that if Yuvraj Singh and Ravi Ashwin have any inclination to make it to the 2019 World Cup squad, they will need to do extremely well in this year’s tournament. Yuvraj was the player of the tournament in 2011 World Cup but is currently on the fringes of the Indian team and will need a big tournament to register his name in the selectors head. On the other hand, Ashwin’s limited over career for India has been put to stop by the brilliant young pairing of Kuldeep and Chahal. Ashwin is still a very experienced bowler, who could contribute a lot to the team but for that to happen he will need to get selected first and IPL 11 provides him with the perfect chance.
With the selectors opting for a rotation policy for the senior squad, players like Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal have a good enough chance to make it to the senior team. Mayank, in particular, has been in blistering form in the domestic circuit. He scored 723 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, which not only made him the highest run-scorer of the tournament but he also became the first player to score over 2000 runs in the domestic season across all formats. Unfortunately for him, a senior call-up is still pending but if he can get a chance in the IPL to showcase his talent on a consistent basis, the Indian blue jersey won’t be very far away from him.
With both Kuldeep and Chahal fairly settled in the Indian team, Axar Patel has hardly managed a look-in. However, if he can do well in this year’s IPL, the voices supporting his inclusion over Kuldeep or Chahal will just grow. This season of Indian Premier League could make or break the career of a lot of players, especially with the World Cup looming large on the horizon.
Looking at the squad and the talent in the team, Kings XI Punjab have the perfect opportunity to lift their maiden IPL title this year, after losing out in the IPL final back in 2014.
IPL 2018: KXIP SWOT Analysis – Threats
KXIP have a bundle of openers in their side – Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Aaron Finch and Chris Gayle. However, only 2 can open the innings and the others will have to be content with a place in the middle-order or the bench. It will definitely be difficult for these seasoned openers to settle in the middle-order and perform with the same result.
One player whose career could hinge on his performances in this years IPL is Yuvraj Singh. Having made a return to the team that he was the Icon player for in the first season, Yuvraj will definitely be comfortable in the environment around him but the fear is that if he fails to get going this season, this could well be his last chance to make a comeback in the national team.
Here is how Yuvraj Singh has performed in the IPL till now
The other major threat for this team will come from the captain Ravi Ashwin, who will be captaining an IPL team for the first time in his career and won’t have the likes of Dhoni or Kohli to get advice from when the situation is tense in the middle and experience becomes the key. His inexperience as a leader could come back to haunt the KXIP management, who had Finch also as an option.
WATCH: Ravi Ashwin’s first interview as the captain of Kings XI Punjab
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