The most extravagant franchisees during IPL Auction 2018 was Kings XI Punjab with Preity Zinta at the helm. Preity went on a bidding spree in the first hour of the auction as she looked to buy all and sundry. Punjab looked to form a new team from scratch as the side has always performed below expectations except in 2014 IPL edition when they lost the final narrowly to KKR. Punjab have looked to invest more in specialists than all-rounders while releasing most of the players who did duty for them in previous seasons. Cricwizz analyses their IPL squad to determine how they have fared in the IPL auction.
Retained players: KXIP retained only Axar Patel as the all-rounder provides a depth to the line-up. They did not retain top players such as Glenn Maxwell, Manan Vohra who had good outings with the team in previous seasons.
RTM cards: Punjab retained Mohit Sharma, David Miller and Marcus Stoinis. Mohit and Miller have been performers for Punjab in previous seasons. But Stoinis is yet to deliver in IPL. Punjab paid Rs 6.2 crore to retain Stoinis. Punjab have gambled on Stoinis expecting him to play knocks such as 146* against New Zealand last year in the upcoming IPL edition.
Bought specialist batsmen and bowlers: T20 is an all-rounder’s game, but defying that logic, Punjab went on a buying spree for specialists. So, they have KL Rahul for Rs 11 crore, Karun Nair for Rs 5.6 crore, R Ashwin for Rs 7.6 crore, Aaron Finch for Rs 6.2 crore, Andrew Tye for Rs 7.2 crore. Punjab is relying on all-rounder Axar Patel to justify the Rs 12.5 crore they had spent on him in retaining him. It will be huge expectations on Patel to deliver the goods in IPL.
Gamble in old warhorses: Punjab have bought back Yuvraj who incidentally made his IPL debut with this team in 2008. They also bought Gayle for Rs 2 crore at the final hour of auction. It’s a gamble for Punjab when all the franchisees have looked away from these players.
Expected playing XI: Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Marcus Stoinis, Yuvraj Singh, David Miller, Andrew Tye, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Singh Rajpoot
Quality local players in squad: Punjab had bought quality Indian players in Rahul, Ashwin who would be expected to be the game changers for the team. Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Mohit Sharma, Axar Patel are proven match-winners. If Yuvraj fires, then it will be paisa vasool for Punjab.
Handy overseas players: In Finch, they have got a destructive opening batsman who can partner Rahul. Miller has always been a great support in the middle-order although he had a poor season with Punjab last year. If Stoinis, Gayle gambles pay off, Punjab would look for a play-off berth. Tye had a good season with Lions last year. He is a good investment for Punjab.
Must read: Complete list of all squads in 2018 IPL
No specialist keeper: Punjab seemed to have forgotten to invest in a specialist keeper. Hence, they will ask Rahul to done the keeping gloves. It will be too much of a task for Rahul who might be asked to open or even lead the team if first-choice Ashwin does not work out.
Lack of all-rounders: Patel, Yuvraj are not genuine all-rounders. The lack of all-rounders may come to haunt Punjab in the T20 event.
What are Punjab chances of winning the title?
They have opted for specialists than all-rounders. It can be a well-thought out strategy or a gamble. If all the forces work together, Punjab have a good team to make a bid for the title. But they have few shortcomings in the squad which they need to work out.
Squad: Axar Patel (Retained), R Ashwin Rs 7.6 crore, Karun Nair – Rs 5.6 crore, KL Rahul – Rs 11 crore, David Miller -Rs 3 crore (Retained via RTM), Aaron Finch – Rs 6.2 crore, Yuvraj Singh – Rs 2 crore, Marcus Stoinis – Rs 6.2 crore (Retained via RTM), Mayank Agarwal – Rs 1 crore, Ankit Singh Rajpoot – Rs 3 crore, Manoj Tiwary – Rs 1 crore, Mohit Sharma – Rs 2.4 crore (Retained via RTM), Mujeeb Zadran – Rs 4 crore, Barinder Sran – Rs 2.2 crore, Andrew Tye – Rs 7.2 crore, Akshdeep Nath – Rs 1 crore, Ben Dwarshuis – Rs 1.4 crore, Mayank Dagar – Rs 20 Lakh, Pradeep Sahu – Rs 20 Lakh, Chris Gayle – Rs 2 crore, Manzoor Dar – Rs 20 Lakh