When Royals meet Kings, it’s old-school versus Next-Gen
Maxwell, the hero of IPL 2014 who helped turn around KXIP’s fortunes.
Kings XI Punjab
It was only in the last year that this under-performing outfit came to the party. Their mantra was all-out aggression regardless of opposition and it’s a tactic that helped them come out of the anonymity of the previous years. They were the table toppers last year, losing only three out of the 14 league games. They kept chasing towering totals with consummate ease. Can they go one step better this year?
Strengths: Punjab are the team that lives up the T20 cliché of no match is done until it’s done. And it’s not a surprise to know why. When you have Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey in the middle order, they can conjure up victories from hopeless positions. Not that the top order is a push-over, especially with the man-in-form M Vijay teeming up with the man he replaced in the Test side, Virender Sehwag. While all eyes would be glued on tattooed Mitchell Johnson hurling thunderbolts, it’s the string of relatively unknown spinners that Punjab keep propping up. Axar Patel might have used IPL 7 as a springboard to his international career but Karanveer Singh and Shivam Sharma too had started making names for themselves by the end of the last edition. With Bailey at the helm, the team knows how to remain cool under pressure and keep grinning through tough phases in the campaign.
Weaknesses: It stared at us in the last year’s final. When Johnson got smashed around, the attack lost sting quickly and too much pressure was put on the spinners. A situation that can only get acerbated this time around when you look at the team roster that lacks the experience of L Balaji. They have Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Rishi Dhawan and Parwinder Awana, names that will not make the fantasy-leaguers really excited but Thakur has been in the form of his life and Bailey will hope that his pack of Indian domestic bowlers can excel under pressure.
They started off as a dream for branding men for IPL – the underdogs triumphing over adversity and reputation always sells but in the ensuing years they started to slip. However it’s not an alarming decline; they did come pretty close to making the playoffs — in fact if James Faulkner had managed to bowl one perfect yorker rather than dish up a waist-high full toss to turn Mumbai Indians’ Aditya Tare into an overnight sensation, they would have made it.
Strengths: A stellar top order that features World Cup hero Steve Smith, India’s best all-season all-format batsman Ajinkya Rahane, and dependable Sanju Samson can be expected to produce consistent performances. Lower down, they have James Faulkner and Stuart Binny to finish off games. The old man Pravin Tambe can still give it a good rip and Faulkner, as he showed in the World Cup final, can still turnaround games with the ball.
Weaknesses: Let’s start with the captaincy of Shane Watson — the man Michael Clarke labelled as a “cancer” to the team spirit in 2013, and the man Australia do not know what to do about. He is untested and a strange choice considering the presence of Steve Smith. Australia didn’t believe in him to give him the captaincy and it would be interesting to see how he goes here.
Source:: Indian Express