KXIP seek positive start against Guj Lions
They endured a disastrous run the last time around to finish at the bottom of the heap and Kings XI Punjab would be aiming to make amends this season when they begin their campaign against newbies Gujarat Lions in their IPL opener here on Monday.
Kings XI Punjab did not make any big buys this year and have a new captain in South African David Miller in place of Australian George Bailey who was released after leading the side to the last place in the previous season.
Virender Sehwag has also retired and he will only be the team mentor this season.
The Preity Zinta-owned side continues to lack the team balance as it has not added any significant player, only snapping the likes of all-rounders Farhaan Behardien and Marcus Stoinis, seamer Mohit Sharma and left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh.
Last season, their batsmen lacked consistency and whenever they did well, the bowlers let the side down.
On the other hand, debutants Gujarat Lions have a balanced side with top-class performers in both batting and bowling.
They have explosive batsmen in Brendon McCullum, captain Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch and a plenty of top-notch all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and James Faulkner.
These T20 specialists can be dispersed through the order and some of them like Raina and Bravo can anchor or attack. Bravo, along with Faulkner, is a high-quality, death-overs bowler as well.
But the weak link for the Gujarat side could be the pace-bowling department as they don’t have any big name -- Indian or overseas -- except for South African Dale Steyn.
The side’s pace department are made up most of by medium pacers.
It will also have to be seen whether Steyn will make the final eleven on Monday, considering his poor form in the T20 format recently. Besides, only four overseas players are allowed in the line-up.
For Kings XI Punjab, a big responsibility would lie on the shoulders of the likes of Miller, Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Murali Vijay and Mitchell Johnson.
Miller has very little captaincy experience -- he has led a side only thrice in domestic cricket -- and he will also have to do the heavy lifting in the batting line-up along with Maxwell.