Two playoff appearances in 11 attempts but an opening pair to strike fear into any opponents and a name that doesn’t seem to quite make sense. That’ll be Kings XI Punjab, then.
Coach: Mike Hesson
Captain: Ravichandran Ashwin
Previous Best: Runner-up (2014)
Why They’ll Win It:
If KL Rahul has a series that confirms a World Cup spot and Chris Gayle continues the form he showed for West Indies against England then Kings XI will have the best opening pair in the tournament. It’s a lovely left-hand, right-hand combo too.
Afghan spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman was great in the Big Bash and is a real eye-catching arrival here while AJ Tye was the tournament’s leading wicket-taker 12 months ago and should form a decent alliance with Mohammed Shami.
But last season’s meltdown shouldn’t entirely mask the promise of their early season form. They were not all that far away. If Gayle and Rahul can make big runs and someone – David Miller? Nic Pooran? Karun Nair? – offer the significant support so badly lacking in 2018 they really should be there or thereabouts for a playoff spot. Big if, though.
Why They Won’t:
Despite Tye’s efforts last year Kings XI faded badly to finish second bottom of the ladder having set the early pace with five wins in their first six.
Sam Curran’s stock has fallen since they splashed big money on a player with little by way of T20 credentials. Moises Henriques is a solid enough acquisition but still represents a downgrade on last season’s Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.
They are IPL ever-presents but have made it beyond the round-robin only twice in 11 attempts, which is crap.
Star Man – KL Rahul:
Only Kane Williamson and Rishabh Pant scored more runs in IPL 2018 than Rahul, and he will be under a spotlight again 12 months on with his returns here potentially of huge significance for both team and player with a World Cup spot on the line after a patchy year.
If Rahul struggles, Kings XI are pretty much screwed given their lack of Indian batting options.
Mauj, masti and a little bit of bhangra 🕺
The FUN-JABI element was at its very best during the photoshoot. 🤩📸
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) March 21, 2019
Full squad: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle (WI), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, David Miller (SA), Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Prabhsimran Singh (wk), Nicholas Pooran (WI, wk), Agnivesh Ayachi, Varun Chakravarthy, Darshan Nalkande, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques (Aus), Sam Curran (Eng), Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (Afg), M Ashwin, R Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye (Aus), Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen (SA), Mohammed Shami.
Monday March 25
2000 IST/1430 GMT: Rajasthan Royals, Sawai Mansingh Stadium Jaipur
Wednesday March 27
2000 IST/1430 GMT: Kolkata Knight Riders, Eden Gardens Kolkata
Saturday March 30
1600 IST/1030 GMT: Mumbai Indians, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Monday April 1
2000 IST/1530 BST: Delhi Capitals, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Saturday April 6
1600 IST/1130 BST: Chennai Super Kings, MA Chidambaram Stadium Chennai
Monday April 8
2000 IST/1530 BST: Sunrisers Hyderabad, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Wednesday April 10
2000 IST/1530 BST: Mumbai Indians, Wankhede Stadium Mumbai
Saturday April 13
2000 IST/1530 BST: Royal Challengers Bangalore, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Tuesday April 16
2000 IST/1530 BST: Rajasthan Royals, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Saturday April 20
2000 IST/1530 BST: Delhi Capitals, Feroz Shah Kotla Delhi
Wednesday April 24
2000 IST/1530 BST: Royal Challengers Bangalore, M Chinnaswamy Stadium Bangalore
Monday April 29
2000 IST/1530 BST: Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium Hyderabad
Friday May 3
2000 IST/1530 BST: Kolkata Knight Riders, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Sunday May 5
1600 IST/1130 BST: Chennai Super Kings, IS Bindra Stadium Mohali
Somerset will start next season on -12 points.
Caffeine, naps, the carrot-and-stick principle and the strength of the pack…
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