The mystery behind the ‘underachiever tag’ of Kings XI Punjab has boggled many cricket-lovers over the years.
Each year at the beginning of the season, the team has looked good with some of the most dangerous players in the shortest format – the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Chris Gayle and David Miller – to boast off, but by the end of the season, there isn’t much to talk about.
There is a reason behind the ‘underachiever tag’, of course, the KXIP have only made it to the playoff stages twice in 2008 and 2014 in the last 12 years.
A UAE-connection that they will like to be reminded about is the fact that in 2014, which was the best year for the franchise, where they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in a closely-fought final, the tournament had begun in the UAE.
It was also the year when Glenn Maxwell was on fire. He was the third-highest scorer in the tournament with 552 runs at a strike rate of 188.
But this year around, KXIP will look to rely on their new skipper, the extremely talented KL Rahul, who with the experience of Anil Kumble in the coaching department, will be extremely critical for the fortunes of the franchise.
KXIP’s IPL History
There isn’t much to talk about over here, with the team making it to the playoff stages only twice in the last 12 years.
2008 – Semi-finalists
2009 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 5th out of 8 teams
2010 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 8th out of 8 teams
2011 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 5th out of 10 teams
2012 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 6th out of 9 teams
2013 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 6th out of 9 teams
2014 Lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final
2015 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 8th out of 8 teams
2016 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 8th out of 8 teams
2017 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 5th out of 8 teams
2018 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 7th out of 8 teams
2019 – Knocked out in league stage after finishing 7th out of 8 teams
Key KXIP players to watch out
KL Rahul: The new skipper is known to be one of India’s best batsman in the T20 format. He is a player who can go big from the start, and his recent form in the IPL shows the class of the man. In 2018, Rahul scored 659 runs in 14 matches for the KXIP, and followed it up in 2019 with 593 runs in 14 matches.
Chris Gayle: To start the proceedings with KL Rahul, there will be the ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle. The mighty West Indian is without a doubt one of the most destructive batsman in the game. If you don’t agree to what’s said above, go and ask the now disbanded Pune Warriors India against whom Gayle smashed 175 runs during a match in 2013.
Mohammed Shami: The India pacer may not really be looked upon as a T20 bowler, but he had his best IPL last year for the KXIP, taking 19 wickets in 14 games. He will be assisted by Sheldon Cottrell and Chris Jordan in the pace bowling department.
The biggest threat for KXIP
The bowling will definitely be a bit of a worry for the KXIP. There is no well-known Indian pacer to assist Mohammed Shami, and with Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell almost a certainty in the team, they will have to choose two players among Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan and Jimmy Neesham.
With having let go off their last year’s skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, the spin department this year seems weak. Mujeeb ur Rahman seems to be the only known face, but his inclusion will take away the spot of another international player.
KXIP: Stats that cannot be missed
Kings XI Punjab, along with Rajasthan Royals, jointly hold the record for the most hat-tricks by a team in IPL history. The Mohali-based franchise has produced four hat-tricks in its rich history in the competition. Yuvraj Singh achieved the feat twice in the 2009 season, Axar Patel once in 2016 and Sam Curran once in 2019.
The highest individual score in IPL history is by the KXIP opener Chris Gayle, who scored a mammoth 175 runs off 66 balls against Pune Warriors India in 2013. However, Gayle was playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore at that time.
Probable Starting XI
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Krishnappa Gowtham, Sheldon Cottrell, Mohammed Shami, Murugan Ashwin, Ishan Porel