The Indian Premier League might be two months away but the exhilaration and anticipation of what is to transpire in the forthcoming Players Auction has set the cricket fans buzzing. With more than 500 international and domestic players going under the hammer thus time, one can expect long but eventful two days in Bangalore. The general elections this year have made the things more messy. Since there is no clarity on the venues, it will be a task cut out for the team managements to build a squad covering all the aspects and conditions of the game proportionately for the IPL caravan might be heading to Sri Lanka, UAE or even South Africa.
It is a proven point that almost half the battle is won or lost in these auctions every year. A good day in the office propels a team’s chances. That’s precisely the reason why financially stronger teams have consistently performed well.
If you are a loyal supporter of the Mohali based franchisee Kings XI Punjab then you must be frustrated. KXIP, from the last three years have kept themselves in the hunt for the playoffs till their last league match but only to falter. It has been 5 seasons since they played a semi – final and it is high time that the Punjab think tank gets their act together and try to bolster the squad with some ‘big’ players.
Here’s my ‘realistic’ wishlist for the Kings XI Punjab.
The big stars
1. Shaun Marsh – Difficult to imagine a KXIP squad without the southpaw, Marsh has scored consistently for his team in every season that he featured in. A big asset at the top of the order.
2. David Hussey – This T20 veteran might be ignored by his country but he brings a lot to offer. Apart from a partnership builder and an acrobat in the field, he is a street smart cricketer with an intelligent cricket brain. In the absence of Adam Gilchrist, he led the KXIP during IPL 5 for a brief period with a good success rate. A captain material.
3. Yuvraj Singh – The original Punjabi hero, Yuvraj’s record in IPL and Mohali in particular has been uninspiring but he remains a star and a lethal T20 specialist. No wonder the local team would love his homecoming.
4. Azhar Mahmood – He should be retained via Right to Match card. Another T20 expert, Azhar brings a balance which is very critical.
5. Mahela Jayawardene – A former passout of KXIP, the classy Jayawardene is an attractive commodity for any team. He can be your opener as well as a middle order batsman. Another captain stuff.
6. Parvez Rasool – He led J&K almost single handedly to the quarter finals of Ranji Trophy this season. A threatening spinner and a batsman, he is an ideal all-rounder for a T20 tournament.
7. Manvinder Bisla – With Gilchrist’s departure, the team needs a genuine wicket keeper. Bisla could be the answer as he has already proved his mettle for Kolkata Knight Riders. He was also involved with Kings XI in IPL 3.
8. Sandeep Sharma – An Indian U19 hero. Bowls beautiful swingers. Could be a threat on helpful Mohali tracks.
9. Rajat Bhatia– One of the most underrated IPL player. A decent hitter down the order and a miser with the ball. Proven credentials.
10. Rishi Dhawan – Leading wicket taker in Ranji Trophy this year. He relished a dream run in domestic cricket. A very handy batsman as well.
11. Mandeep Singh – Despite being inconsistent at times, a pillar for Punjab in domestic matches. A local lad.
The familiar faces – Others like Parwinder Awana, Manpreet Gony, Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla have done reasonably well for KXIP and most of them should find themselves back in the setup.
The elements of surprise – VRV Singh’s successful comeback may help him get a recall from Kings XI. Manpreet Juneja’s highly successful run for Punjab could be fruitful for him. Paul Valthaty turned out to be a one season wonder but may be a dark horse in the race.
Rumor has it that KXIP team management is very much interested in Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen and would exploit thier larger kitty. However, chances are bleak as Delhi Daredevils have 3 joker cards intact.