After failing to qualify for the playoffs over the last few years under the leadership of Ravichandran Ashwin, the team management made a stern decision and traded their skipper to Delhi Capitals before the auction. In the upcoming season, KL Rahul is set to captain the Punjab franchise.
KXIP are one of the few teams who have not won the IPL till now, in spite of participating in the league since its inception. They will look to put up a strong performance this season, after picking up the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Sheldon Cottrell at the 2020 auction.
Squad for IPL 2020: KL Rahul (c), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, M Ashwin, J Suchith, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande, Glenn Maxwell, James Neesham, Chris Jordan, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, Nicholas Pooran, Prabhsimran Singh
Last year KXIP had an explosive top order but lacked a power hitter in the middle to build on their starts. The management tried to address this issue during the IPL 2020 Auction as they targeted and acquired the services of Maxwell and James Neesham.
Both these all-rounders are capable of hitting mighty sixes, in addition to bowling a few overs in the middle phase of the innings.
Now, let us take a look at the best possible combination for the KXIP team during the upcoming IPL season.
Openers: KL Rahul (c), Chris Gayle
The flamboyant KL Rahul will open the innings alongside Chris Gayle in the upcoming season. Both the batsmen are highly experienced in the T20 format, and are capable of playing the big shots right from ball one. The team's fortunes in the batting department will be heavily dependent on the performances of these two players at the top of the order.
Gayle's fitness will determine the number of matches he plays in the tournament. If Gayle is not match fit at the start, then the team management might opt for the Karnataka batsman Mayank Agrawal to open the innings alongside the skipper.
Mandeep Singh is also another option available in the squad for the opening role.
Middle order: Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Sarfaraz Khan, James Neesham
Mayank Agarwal will bat a the crucial number 3 position and look to anchor the batting lineup. His ability to attack the spinners will help the team considerably in the middle phase of the innings.
Mandeep Singh and Glenn Maxwell will follow Agarwal in the batting order. Mandeep can play the role of the enforcer in this XI, while Maxwell will look to play his natural aggressive game and maximize the team's total.
Sarfaraz Khan and James Neesham will be the finishers in the XI. Sarfaraz has the ability to score at a high pace with unorthodox shots. Neesham, on the other hand, is a power hitter who has the ability to clear any ground.
Lower order: Krishnappa Gowtham, Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel
One of India's leading pacers, Mohammad Shami, will lead the KXIP bowling attack in the upcoming season. He will be joined by Sheldon Cottrell and Ishan Porel in the pace department.
The pitch at Mohali usually assists pace bowling, so we can expect the team management to opt for only one specialist spinner in a majority of the matches. Cottrell and Shami are expected to handle the job of bowling in the death overs.
Krishnappa Gowtham will handle the spin bowling department along with all-rounder Maxwell. Neesham will be another bowling option available for the skipper.
Best XI: KL Rahul (c), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Sarfaraz Khan, James Neesham, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mohammed Shami, Sheldon Cottrell, Ishan Porel