Kings XI Punjab made a number of changes ahead of IPL 2020, with the most important one being naming Indian youngster KL Rahul as their skipper. Last year’s captain Ravichandran Ashwin was traded to Delhi Capitals, while the franchise also procured the services of big-hitter Glenn Maxwell and pacer Sheldon Cottrell for the season.
Under the guidance of coach Anil Kumble and skipper Rahul, the team will be looking to reach the top four. We look at the predicted playing XI of KXIP for the first few games. The side will begin their campaign against Delhi Capitals on Sunday.
Chris Gayle and KL Rahul
Despite critics arguing that Chris Gayle is past his prime, the West Indian proved that he has plenty left in his arsenal with a fine IPL 2019. The West Indian played some memorable knocks last year and will be expected to give his start fiery starts yet again.
Skipper Rahul has reinvented his game in the recent past, and will be eager to have his best IPL season this year. He will also don the gloves and it remains to be seen if the responsibility of captaincy hampers his performance in any way.
Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Mandeep Singh and Sarfaraz Khan
Mayank Agarwal has been a surprise performer in the IPL, striking at a decent strike rate and anchoring the innings at number three. He is a good player of spin, and with Delhi having plenty of match-winning spinners in their ranks, Agarwal will be crucial.
Glenn Maxwell was the Man of the Series in the recent ODI series between England and Australia. He has a fine record in the IPL that was held in the UAE in 2014, and bats with a strike rate of over 160 in the format. He will be crucial to the team;s chances this year. He can also contribute with the ball in hand.
Mandeep Singh might have to fight it out with Karun Nair for the number 5 position in the Kings XI Punjab team. However, what tilts the favour in Mandeep’s favour is that Nair has not played many games in the edition in the last few years.
Sarfaraz Khan had a prolific domestic season in 2019, and he will be eager to showcase his mettle in the IPL. The youngster fizzled out after a fine season with RCB two years ago, and will be looking to find his lost form.
James Neesham and Krishnappa Gowtham
New Zealand’s James Neesham will have to compete with Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Nicholas Pooran for the fourth overseas slot but might surge ahead as he can contribute in both departments. He is also a handy pace bowler, and will be expected to send down a few overs regularly as the third fast bowler in the team. He can also send the ball a long way with the bat in hand.
Gowtham was traded to Kings XI Punjab from Rajasthan Royals, and will be the spin all-rounder in the side. He can send down a few overs in the power plays as well, and will find the conditions here to his liking.
Mohammad Shami, Sheldon Cottrell, Ravi Bishnoi
Mohammad Shami is guaranteed to make the XI as he is the only experienced and recognized Indian pacer in the side. Shami has improved his fitness in the last few years and can be lethal both with the new ball and at the death.
Left-arm fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell brings variety to the attack and is likely to take the field over Chris Jordan. The West Indian has plenty of experience in the format and keeps things tight as well.
The final spot goes to Ravi Bishnoi, though Murugan Ashwin is a candidate as well. The former is likely to be in the first XI, however. The youngster bowled economically and accurately in the Under 19 World Cup that was held in South Africa earlier this year. His googlies are tough to face and he is an aggressive bowler in the middle overs. This means that Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman misses the out from the predicted playing XI of KXIP, but that has more to do with the limited resources that the team has in the fast bowling department.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) Predicted Playing XI for IPL 2020:
Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Glenn Maxwell, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Jimmy Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Sheldon Cottrell