IPL 2019: Kings XI Punjab's strongest playing XI
Kings XI Punjab had a great start to the eleventh season of IPL as they won five of their first six matches. However, Punjab had to face a drastic turnaround as they failed to make it to the playoffs despite being in a strong position for the first half of the league. Kings XI eventually finished at seventh position in IPL 2018.
Following their dismal performance at IPL 2018, Kings XI Punjab decided to release plenty of players. The Punjab-based franchise released as many as 11 players ahead of the 2019 IPL Auction.
With 15 vacant spots in their squad (11 Indians and 4 Overseas), Kings XI Punjab bought 13 players - 4 overseas and 9 Indians.
KXIP's Final Squad: Ravichandran Ashwin (C), KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Moises Henriques, Nicholas Pooran, Mohammed Shammi, Sarfaraz Khan, Varun Chakaravarthy, Sam Curran, Hardus Viljoen, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Prabhsimran Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, and Murugan Ashwin.
Thus, with a strong squad at their disposal, let us look at Kings XI Punjab's strongest XI that they could feature in IPL 2019.
Openers: Nicolas Pooran (WK) and KL Rahul
Nicolas Pooran has been in great form at the moment and is expected to open the batting for KXIP. With excellent power-hitting abilities, Pooran would be a definite addition to their playing XI. Besides, Pooran will also be donning the wicket-keeping gloves in IPL 2019 as it would free Rahul of the wicket-keeping duties. Hence, it would be quite unusual to keep such talent out of the playing XI at first go.
Rahul will open the batting with Pooran. Rahul played 14 matches for the franchise and amassed 659 runs at an excellent average of 54.91 and an overpowering strike-rate of 158.41. Thus, with extraordinary numbers at his disposal, Rahul would be an indisputable choice to open the innings in IPL 2019.
Middle-Order: Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, and Sarfaraz Khan
The Indian batting prodigy, Karun Nair, will slot into No.3. Karun has had a roller-coaster ride in IPL. However, the Karnataka batsman had a decent run with KXIP in IPL 2018. In the 11th edition of the league, he played 13 games for Punjab and scored 301 runs at an average of 25.08.
Mandeep Singh, whom KXIP acquired from RCB, would prove to be a decent addition for KXIP in the middle-order. The right-handed batsman enjoys a respectable IPL record. Having been a part of 14 games in IPL 2018 with RCB, Singh amassed 252 runs at an average of 25.20 and a strike-rate of 135.48.
Sarfaraz Khan will complete KXIP's middle-order. Sarfaraz has had a tad wavy run in the Indian Premier League. RCB decided to release the right-handed batsman ahead of the 2019 IPL Auction because of his poor form. However, KXIP acquired Khan in an attempt to strengthen their middle-order for the upcoming IPL. He possesses great abilities and it is only a matter of time before he hits a purple patch.
All-rounders: Sam Curran and Ravichandran Ashwin (C)
Sam Curran, the fiery bowling all-rounder from England, was envisioned to attract a lot of bidders at the 2019 IPL Auction. The story was no different as a lot of franchises went for Curran with Punjab finally acquiring his services for INR 7.2 Crore. Sam Curran is expected to replace Marcus Stoinis in KXIP's playing XI. Having traded Stoinis, Punjab would want an able all-rounder of Curran's stature in their playing XI.
Ravichandran Ashwin led the side very well in the earlier stage of IPL 2018. However, he lost his way in the latter half as Punjab failed to qualify for the playoffs. Captaincy pressure took a toll on his performance as well. Having featured in 14 IPL games, Ashwin managed to pick only ten wickets at an average of 41.00 and a strike-rate of 30.40. Besides, he also failed with the bat as he notched-up only 102 runs in the league. Thus, come the IPL 2019, Ashwin will look to improve his game, especially his bowling.
Spinners: Varun Chakravarthy and Mujeeb Ur Rahman
IPL newbie, Varun Chakravarthy, would be the newest addition to Punjab's spin department. Varun managed to strike a deal with Punjab at INR 8.4 Crore - the joint-highest in 2019 IPL auction. Chakravarthy has had an exceptional record in TNPL 2018 where he picked up nine wickets at an economy rate of 4.7. Thus, the TNPL star would be a definite name in Punjab's playing XI in IPL 2019.
Alongside Varun would be Punjab's find of the last season - Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The mystery spinner made it to the headlines in IPL 2018 as he managed to trouble the likes of Virat Kohli in the tournament. His addition to Punjab's starting XI in 2018 came as a surprise. But, he soon became one of the most significant overseas players for Punjab. Having featured in 11 matches, Mujeeb scalped 14 wickets at an average of 20.64, strike-rate of 17.71, and an economy rate of 6.99.
Pacers: Andrew Tye and Ankit Rajpoot
Andrew Tye, the Australian speedster, lit up the 2018 IPL where scalped 24 wickets at an average of 18.66. He also accounted for three four-wicket hauls. In the process, he also became the highest wicket-taker in IPL 2018. Thus, with such transcendent services at the helm, Andrew Tye will unquestionably be forming a core in Kings XI Punjab's playing XI.
Ankit Rajpoot will complete the pace department for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2019. Having acquired no specialist Indian pace bowler in 2018 IPL auction, Punjab tried their luck with Ankit and it paid off. Rajpoot featured in eight games for Punjab in IPL 2018 and managed to grab 11 wickets at an average of 20.27, strike-rate of 14.27, and an economy of 8.52. Hence, with decent numbers up his sleeve, Ankit will happen to be a prominent part of Kings XI Punjab's in IPL 2019.