To start on a lighter note, KXIP, in the north to me, is the one which is balancing RCB in the south. A team which has performed only in patches and has managed to reach semifinals twice and only once in the finals against KKR when Manish Pandey extorted their only chance so far to lift the title even after scoring 200 in a final game courtesy Wriddhiman Saha, they will be squirming to get hold of the cup this year. Getting totally revamped this year, I feel they have spent well going by the resources they have got.
Buying Gayle where others didn’t that too at a cheaper price, I feel was a right decision to get a player who can win games single-handedly. Gayle to me is a mythological personality, who, when gets going puts opposition in pit of desperation by creating an illusion in the mind of opposition that they have lost the game. Having a guy at the top of the order is essential in a way that it doesn’t give any chance to opposition to put pressure from the start, which is crucial in a T20 game. What is interesting for KXIP this year is that they have so many match winners in the form of Gayle, Finch, Miller, Yuvraj, Stoinis and captain Ashwin that they only need a couple of them to win a game.
With Finch getting married and missing the first game, I feel Lokesh Rahul, their main wicket-keeper will be opening with Gayle. Another thing which gives them confidence from bowling perspective is that they have 3 options available from their all-rounders’ lot in the form of Stoinis and Axar who will be bowling 8 overs every game and Yuvi to play the role as Raina does for CSK. Also being Indian, seamers Barinder Sran and Mohit Sharma, both offering different skill set, KXIP will have the opportunity to leverage their batting by playing Finch & Gayle as openers, though Finch should be the opener with KL Rahul, but with Sehwag as Director and Ashwin also telling media about surprises from KXIP this year, one can’t say what is bound to happen in the KXIP camp, we may see Finch, Gayle, Miller, and Stoinis all playing. In case that happens, KL Rahul will be batting at 3 followed by Yuvi, Miller, Stoinis, and Patel, giving no chance to Karun Nair or Mayank Agarwal. Also, What I am really excited to look forward to is Ashwin’s captaincy. Coming from an engineering background with a highly analytical mind, I think he could do what other captains couldn’t for KXIP. Also, him not being in the Indian team and working on his new variations for more than a year, I feel may give him another advantage of being new again and a possibility of him not being read so easily as he earlier was. In the bowling department, if KXIP goes for either of Gayle and Finch, they may be playing with Andrew Tye. What may come as surprise to many people is the Afghan mystery, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, we may see him playing more games as Rashid Khan if he proves himself a viable asset to the team. If that happens that may give a place to Karun Nair or Mayank Agarwal in the playing XI. Talking more about the middle order I feel it is pretty stable with Miller, Yuvi, Stoinis, and Patel providing solidity there. A little concern for me for KXIP is their seaming department, there has to be someone taking charge in a situation of close games where they would be needing someone to rely in the death overs, though Mohit can be deceiving, he at times have leaked runs, whereas talking of Sran he has a lot to prove.
Under the leadership of Ashwin, I have a strong feeling about KXIP that they possess the potency to perform ingeniously. Also, I must say there would be multiple players to watch out for this season from KXIP’s camps, Stoinis, Ashwin, and Rahman probably, among those.
Tentative Playing XI
- Finch/Gayle 2. KL Rahul/Gayle 3. Karun Nair/KL Rahul/Mayank Agarwal 4. Miller 5. Yuvi 6. Stoinis 7. Axar 8. Ashwin 9. Mohit Sharma 10. Barinder Sran 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Andrew Tye