Kings XI Punjab's performance in the Indian Premier League, thus far, has been extremely poor. The team has made it to the playoffs in just 2 out of 10 seasons in the history of IPL. The franchise is a relatively unsuccessful side and has qualified to the finals in just 1 season.
Just like earlier times, the Kings displayed glimpses of brilliance in the previous season of IPL as well. The team had a star-studded line-up which consisted of players such as Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Aaron Finch and Andrew Tye. The veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was appointed as the skipper of the team.
With such a wonderful cadre which consisted of quite a few stalwarts, KXIP was expected to turn its fortune in IPL 11. The franchise showed a few signs of it but eventually ended up messing it up, amidst the season. The team initially lost only one out of the first six matches and kicked off the tournament in a great way. Howbeit, the 7th season runner-ups lost the momentum in the middle of the league and could win only one out of the last eight matches. The inability to figure out the right team combination and proper playing XI made the team ending at the 7th position by the end of the season.
Nevertheless, before the IPL 2019 auction which is likely to take place on 17th December 2018, the team will surely like to correct a few wrongs and will ensure that they turn their fortunes in the next season. Here are some things which the team needs to address before the IPL auction.
#1 Wicket Keeping
KXIP had a pretty balanced squad after the auction in 2018. Before the time they were exposed midst the tournament, the team didn’t seem to have any sturdy weakness. The franchise had picked the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Aaron Finch as their main batsmen. Punjab had a gun batting line-up which consisted of some scintillating power hitters.
However, the team couldn't pick any full-time WK/Batsman in the IPL auction 2018. The Kings had Akshadeep Nath as one of their main keepers but the Lucknow-born lad hadn’t done much to be considered as a direct pick in the playing XI. Whilst the other and the last choice for a Keeper-batsman was KL Rahul. The ex-RCB player, at the moment, is one of the best T20 batsman in India but the 26-year old's approach hasn't been the same behind the wickets.
KL Rahul can although keep the wickets for his team; the guy won't be as effective as any other full-time Wicket-Keeper. Punjab's management will unhesitatingly like to pick a proper WK/batsman who can be a substitute to KL Rahul.
#2 Middle Order
Kings XI Punjab started their campaign in IPL 11 with a bang as they dominated throughout the first half of the tournament. The fearless top order of the franchise made the team invincible on some occasions. KL Rahul's heroics in the first match and the lion-hearted Chris Gayle's dazzling ton against Chennai Super Kings had almost ensured the team's place in the playoffs in the first six matches itself.
But in due course of time, Punjab's performance had a drastic fall. The team was once even bowled out for 88 runs by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 48th match of the tournament. The main cause behind this disastrous form was the lack of support given to the top order. The middle order of Kings XI Punjab failed miserably in the tournament.
The likes of Yuvraj Singh were benched for half of the season. Someone like Aaron Finch was asked to bat down the order. Karun Nair, Axar Patel, Mayank Aggarwal and Marcus Stoinis showed a few sparks here and there but couldn't do much when the team needed them. These miserable failures along with the inability to figure out the right team combination eventually ended the team at the 7th position at the end of the season.
The King's management would undoubtedly like to solidify the middle order of the franchise because once the middle order problems will be sorted; the team will have one the best batting line-up in IPL.
#3 Fast Bowlers
KXIP's biggest weakness in IPL 11 was its bowling line-up. While, the batsmen of the team, to some extent, performed impressively throughout the tourney, the Bowlers completely disappointed the team right from the start.
Whilst spinners such as Ravi Ashwin and Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman contributed their bit in the league, the pace battery looked completely clueless. Although they have Andrew Tye in the squad, there is no other seamer who can support him with the ball from the other end. On one hand, bowlers such as Mohit Sharma and Marcus Stoinis have the experience but their approach with the ball on the field has been mediocre. On the other hand, the 25-year old Barinder Sran is yet to prove his mettle or display the traits to success as his career has been plagued with mostly injuries.
The problems of pace department are something Kings XI Punjab will assuredly like to address before the IPL auction. The team will indubitably increase the number of young as well as experienced talented fast bowlers in the auction of IPL 2019.