Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will go into the eighth edition of IPL as one of the favourites. Their stellar performance last season ensured they would be amongst the teams competing for the title. Unfortunately, the thirst remained unquenched in last year's IPL final when Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) chased down 200 runs to claim the trophy for the second time.
If someone whispers the names of KXIP's first six batsmen in Martin Scorcese's ears, he would consider yet another gangster movie keeping these batsmen in mind. Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha, Manan Vohra/ Murali Vijay, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Geroge Bailey are the names that can tear apart any bowling attack in this format of the game.
Last year, KXIP won 11 of their 14 matches in the league phase and they also went on to defeat the mighty Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the playoffs to secure a berth in the final. The George Bailey-led Punjab side surprised everyone last season and gave their best performance. Twice, they chased down 200+ scores and twice they put up 200+ scores batting first.
The Maxwell and Miller show remained constant throughout the league stage but failed in the playoffs and the big final. They were lucky enough in the second qualifier when they played CSK as Suresh Raina went off to a flier but CSK's middle order could not keep the momentum up.
They tasted loss in the final yet again against KKR after losing out to them in the first qualifier. This clearly suggests that their bowling unit did not step up when needed and that is definitely an area that needs to be improved.
Mitchell Johnson is the spearhead of their bowling attack and he has had a good World Cup as he claimed 15 wickets at an average of 21.73. Axar Patel was the find of the season last year and because of his performance, he was included in India's ODI squad.
The only problem remains with their other pacers as they don't really have the speed to threaten any batsmen and in that case they heavily rely upon Johnson.
If the players play up to their potential, then a playoff place is well within Bailey's team's reach but they need to keep calm once they reach the playoffs.
Key Players: We saw last season what Maxwell and Miller are capable of. If these two get going, then no boundaries are big enough. Both these players scored 324 runs in the Worlds Cup for their respective sides and their strike rates are remarkably good. Maxwell has the knack of picking up wickets as well. Their all-round performance could help KXIP clinch the title for the first time.
Get the Kings XI Punjab Squad HERE