Kings XI Punjab have been one of the most inconsistent sides in Indian Premier League (IPL). But after assembling an experienced squad at 2018 auction, the mentor of the side, Virender Sehwag is bullish on the team's chances to win its maiden trophy this season.
"The kind of team we have this year, we can win the championship. We have spent a lot of of money on some of the players, so hopefully they will do the job. This surely is the best KXIP team in the last 10 years."
The team was short on quality Indian players earlier but this time it is loaded with them. Ravichandran Ashwin will captain the squad comprising Axar Patel, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Barinder Sran, Mohit Sharma and the in-form Agarwal.
"Last few years, our Indian players were not that good except Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel. That was one gap. If you want to win the IPL, you have to have good Indian players. We have four to five of them this time.
"We were also struggling with Indian batting line up which could hold the innings together. Guys like Rahul, Nair and Manoj Tiwary can hold the middle order. The we have have explosive openers in Gayle and Finch, and down the order we have David Miller. Hopefully, they will do well against spinners," said Sehwag.
Jersey launch with the Nawab @virendersehwag, thank you to all those who were there to support us and look forward to your continued support through the season. @lionsdenkxip pic.twitter.com/fbu99uSYxh
Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) March 13, 2018
The Ashwin-led spin department looks solid too but there is not much experience in the pace department. Australia's Andrew Tye leads the pace attack in the company of Sran, Sharma and UP's Ankit Rajpoot.
Sehwag doesn't see inexperience as an issue.
"We don't have an experienced bowling line-up but we have very good one. I am sure Ashwin will bring the best out of them."
Having a bowler as captain is also a big positive, according to Sehwag.
"I have always felt a bowler-captain can win you more games. If 8, 10 or 15 runs are needed in the final over, only bowler can you win that game.
"The way a bowler-captain thinks, he can also help other bowlers on the field. That is why I am a great fan of Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, who all made great captains," Sehwag added.
Unveiling our new jersey for the season 2018, with @virendersehwag and @ashwinravi99 .@lionsdenkxip #LivePunjabiPlayPunjabi #KXIP @IPL #IPL2018 #IPL11 #REDFOREVER pic.twitter.com/NBVJKtWR4T
Mohit Burman (@imohitburman) March 13, 2018
Their stock has nosedived in recent years but if Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh win a couple of games for Kings XI Punjab in the upcoming IPL, Sehwag would take it as a decent return on investment.
Gayle and Yuvraj were both bought at a base price of Rs 2 crore by the Preity Zinta co-owned franchise.
The Jamaican dasher went unsold twice before being lapped by up KXIP while none of the other teams bid for Yuvraj, clearly indicating that they are no longer considered as match-winners. However Sehwag is not complaining.
"It is great that they have come to us at their base price. It is surely a bargain. Who knows if there were more bidders, they could have gone as high as USD 1 million. They are big names and match winners, even if they win two-three games for us, we would get the return on investment," Sehwag told PTI during an interview on the sidelines of KXIP's jersey launch here today.
While Yuvraj is a certain starter in the XI, at least for the first few games, Gayle is not as Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch are expected to form a potent opening combination. For now, Gayle is only certain to play the first game as Finch will be unavailable due to his wedding back in Australia.
"Finch is not available for the first game so most likely Gayle will play in his place. So the opening game is not a problem but we have a big headache after that. We will all sit together and take the call. I believe Finch is such a player that he can play anywhere," said Sehwag.
(With PTI inputs)