Punjab eye improved show

Punjab eye improved show

Punjab eye improved show

Kings XI Punjab, after two consecutive bottom place finishes, will attempt to revive their fortunes in the tenth edition.

Still on the lookout for their maiden title, Kings XI has got a new captain in Glenn Maxwell. With Virender Sehwag as head of cricket operations, one expects the team to adopt an aggressive approach for the season.

It will be interesting to see how Maxwell, who has had only two half-centuries in the previous two seasons, responds to the new responsibility. He will be the fourth Punjab captain in nine years. The core of the side, though, remains the same. Punjab have retained 19 players, and released four.

In batting they have got a clutch of match-winners in Martin Guptill, Hashim Amla, David Miller, Eoin Morgan, Murali Vijay and Shaun Marsh, not to forget wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha who is coming off a successful Test series at home. Throw in the all-round skills of Marcus Stoinis and Darren Sammy, and Punjab batting looks quite formidable on paper.

However, it is the bowling that appears to be a bit lacklustre. They have pace options in Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Mohit Sharma and the highest paid Indian player of the season — left-arm seamer T Natarajan. However, consistency could be a factor for them in the demanding format. The spin department, featuring Axar Patel and KC Cariappa, doesn’t inspire much confidence.

In nine seasons, Kings XI have finished last thrice. Last year the team also battled off-field issues, including a change of captaincy mid-season. The high point of their journey remains their appearance in final in 2014 under George Bailey, and the semifinal in the inaugural year.

Past performances: 2016: Eighth; 2015: Eighth; 2014: Runners-up; 2013: Sixth; 2012: Sixth; 2011: Fifth; 2010: Eighth; 2009: Fifth; 2008: Semifinalists.

The Squad: Glenn Maxwell (captain), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Axar Patel, Gurkeerat Singh, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, M Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Hashim Amla, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Martin Guptill, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh. STAR WATCH  Glenn Maxwell: He had a terrible last two seasons in IPL but the hard-hitting Australian seemed to have regained his mojo on Indian soil. He is fresh from a century in the just concluded India-Australia series and his form would be key in Punjab’s progress. His 918 runs in IPL bear testimony to his prowess in the shortest format.

David Miller: The swashbuckler from South Africa had a forgettable 2016 season where he had to concede captaincy to Murali Vijay mid-season. But Miller on his day can murder any attack at will. The left-hander has an impressive strike rate of 144.39 in IPL and has  accumulated 1480 runs from 61 matches.