Kings XI Punjab Enter IPL Auction in Search of a Captain, Again
While RCB have most slots to fill at the #IPLAuction, KXIP is in the hunt for their most important player – skipper.
Eleven captains in 12 seasons. And yet, when 332 players go under the hammer at the IPL auctions in Kolkata on Thursday, Kings XI Punjab would once again be jumping in the barrel in search of a skipper. Having traded Ravichandran Ashwin to Delhi Capitals in the transfer window, Kings XI Punjab will now have to plug a hole that no other team has to.
Going without a captain into the auctions often affects the strategy owing to how a leader wants to assemble his troops. And it only grows manifold for a side who are yet to crack a winning combination and are looking to lift their maiden title.
The only silver lining for the franchisee, however, is that they also have the maximum amount left in the kitty – ₹42.7 crore.
It is a similar situation like that of Kolkata Knight Riders a couple of seasons back when they had to rope in India international Dinesh Karthik after Gautam Gambhir had parted ways to join Delhi Capitals (then Delhi Daredevils) after helping the purple and gold brigade lift the title twice.
Karthik did have the luxury of a settled squad though and helped the team reach the play-off stages in his first season as skipper while they finished fifth in 2019.
The other factor for the team is that they lack experienced heads in the dressing room. While Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mohammed Shami have all been around the international circuit for quite some time, none of them have earned their reputation as captains. It will thus be a surprise pick if Kings XI Punjab want to venture into unchartered territories and pull off a surprise but chances of that look slim.
However, KL Rahul may still get the nod if the management wants to back an Indian to take charge at the helm over overseas options.
Thus, as the hunt continues, here’s a list of players who the Kings XI Punjab think tank might opt for in Thursday’s auction:
Needless to say, the stakes will be high for a limited-overs skipper who has just lifted a World Cup albeit in the 50-over format. Morgan, who led England in that iconic final against New Zealand in July, will seems to be a perfect fit for Kings Xi Punjab’s scheme of things.
Besides the experience in terms of leading a side, Morgan also fits the bill for a perfect middle-order batsman – an area Kings XI Punjab barely have in order. With Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh all failing to provide the role of a finisher in the last season, Morgan’s inclusion would also provide the much-needed boost for the Mohali-based outfit.
Although he opted out of the IPL last season and had a forgettable one in 2018, Maxwell will be the tried-and-tested go-to man for Kings XI Punjab. One well acquainted with the functioning of the franchisee and the experience of leading the team in the past, Kings XI Punjab may break the bank for the explosive Australian. Besides his experience, Maxwell is also a handy all-rounder and with Krishnappa Gowtham being the only player they have in that bracket so far, Maxwell’s role of an off-spinner might help them iron out a few cracks in that section.
After taking a sabbatical from the sport earlier this year, Maxwell announced his comeback in the Big Bash League recently and should be back to his best by the time the IPL comes around.
Although he sits just behind Babar Azam in the ICC T20 rankings, but with players from Pakistan not part of the IPL, Finch is the top-ranked batsman available in the auction. A great back-up for the explosive duo of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, Finch too can be an option the Kings XI Punjab management would want to tinker with in the upcoming IPL season. Quite like Maxwell, the limited-overs captain of Australia has also donned the Kings XI jersey in the past and had opted out of the 2019 IPL owing to the crunch schedule in the first half of the year. After a dry spell where the burden of captaincy seemed to have been taking a toll on his batting, Finch also regained form in the three-match series against Pakistan, scoring 106 runs while remaining unbeaten in two of the three innings.
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