Can they end Punjab’s run of luck? Barring two seasons (2008, 2014), KXIP have consistently failed to make it to the playoffs and have even been wooden spooners thrice.
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CHOP AND CHANGE APPROACH HAS HURT
From Yuvraj Singh in the inaugural edition in 2008 to KL Rahul in 2020, KXIP have been led by as many as 12 captains. They share that record with Delhi Capitals.
THE KARNATAKA ANGLE
Having finished as the second and third highest run-getter respectively in the 2018 and 2019 editions, wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul became the obvious choice for captaincy after the team management decided to trade R Ashwin off to the Delhi Capitals.
With as many as five players in the squad, including Rahul, hailing from the Karnataka side, the skipper feels his job will be easier under the mentorship of fellow statemate Kumble.
The middle-order is brittle. KXIP also lack a credible finisher. There is too much burden on Mohammed Shami in the bowling department and Ashwin’s exit thins the spin bowling.
Kings XI Punjab have a stellar support staff with Kumble, Andy Flower, Jonty Rhodes, Charl Langeveldt and Wasim Jaffer. The opening pair of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, followed by Mayank Aggarwal and Glenn Maxwell, form an enviable top-order.
Big chance for fringe players like Mandeep Singh, Deepak Hooda and Sarfaraz Khan to underline their credentials.
KXIP have great ability to implode. It can happen again.
OVER THE YEARS
2008: Semis, 2009: Fifth; 2010: Finished last, 2011: Finished fifth, 2012: Sixth, 2013: Sixth, 2014: Finalists, 2015: Last, 2016: Last, 2017: Fifth, 2018: Second last, 2019: Sixth
TOI Likely XI
KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Chris Jordan, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Porel and Ravi Bishnoi.