Two of the most experienced Sri Lankan batsmen in the middle order, a searing pace bowler and a captain who was the heartthrob of the country combined with lady luck that came from their pretty owner and her smart businessman beau. The formula had to work for Kings XI Punjab!
Alas! The pace bowler had to return to play for his country, the Sri Lankans found runs hard to come by and the captain hit a dark patch while his other pacer got slapped around. The formula didn’t seem to be working. However the discovery of a hard hitting Australian talent ensured that the team from Mohali finished amongst the top four of India’s elite.
The next couple of seasons saw them dip to lower and lower heights! Inconsistent performances saw the team fail to make the semis in the second edition and news of the owner’s breakup with her beau grabbed more headlines than the runs and wickets scored while four wins and ten losses saw them finish last in 2010.
After a court case which temporarily expelled them from the IPL, there was the reshuffling of teams which saw Kings XI Punjab lose their charismatic captain to the Pune Warriors amid controversial circumstances while the Sri Lankan duo headed South. The pacer was signed up by another Bollywood superstar while they just about managed to hang on to their young Aussie. In return, Preity’s team saw the addition of Adam Gilchrist, a veteran Aussie who keeps fit only for the IPL.
Gilchrist, having the experience of winning a trophy with the Deccan Chargers, was immediately appointed captain as Punjab tried rebuilding their team. The domestic talent did dazzle eventually and KXIP finished fifth in the league, just missing out on the semifinal spots. KXIP were back on track again!!
Now with a couple of days left for the world’s most awaited domestic league, KXIP will be looking to get the trophy home and a captain who can turn the tide from finishing last one season to winning the silverware in the next would be the key to KXIPs success. Shaun Marsh has had tremendous success in the IPL so far and his role along with David Hussey in the middle order would be crucial. Hussey though would be unavailable for the first part of the tournament along with other Australians on national duty and this puts the onus on the domestic players to step up.
Paul Valthaty was a revelation last time around with his blazing century against Dhoni’s Super Kings while Piyush Chawla, who has remained with the team since the first season, is a shrewd spinner. Praveen Kumar will not set the world on fire with his pace but with the ball moving under the lights, he will be a cheeky customer and his partnership with Ryan Harris with the new ball will be vital to the Kings’ chances. The addition of domestic talents like Abhishek Nayar and Rajagopal Sathish will only add to the team’s strengths while losing the experience of Dinesh Karthik to Mumbai would be a big blow. The forgotten Pakistani Azhar Mahmood, now an English citizen, could turn to be the team’s trump card after his excellent showing in the T20 tournaments in England.
Kings XI Punjab are not amongst the favorites this season but predictions count for nothing in the IPL as shown by the Rajasthan Royals and the Deccan Chargers in the first two season. One season of promise followed by three seasons of disappointment. Can Preity and her boys finally get the prestigious trophy home to Punjab?
Adam Gilchrist, Parvinder Awana, Love Ablish, Amit Yadav, Azhar Mahmood, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Stuart Broad, Piyush Chawla, Siddharth Chitnis, Paras Dogra, James Faulkner, Harmeet Singh, Ryan Harris, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Vikramjeet Malik, Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascarenhas, David Miller, Abhishek Nayar, Ramesh Powar, Nathan Rimmington, Nitin Saini, Rajagopal Sathish, Shalabh Srivastava, Sunny Sing and Paul Valthaty.