R Ashwin has been in the news for not being selected in the Indian playing XI for the first Test between India and West Indies in the Caribbean. But there are developments, reportedly, taking place closer home for the champion off-spinner which could be equally devastating.
A report published in Bangalore Mirror says that the Chennai cricketer will not only be stripped of the captaincy of Kings XI Punjab team of Indian Premier League (IPL) but would be dropped altogether from the unit.
It has to be remembered that Kings XI have been the perennial underachievers of the IPL along with Royal Challengers Bangalore. The last season also proved disappointing for the Chandigarh-based side as they failed to make the play-offs and finished at sixth position. Ashwin was also involved in a controversy during the season when he 'Mankaded' Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals during one of the matches.
The report states that Kings XI are currently in talks with two other IPL teams for a deal to trade the off-spinner to them. It further reveals that the frontrunner to grab the 32-year old is the Delhi Capitals. The other team interested in getting the tweaker in their side are the Rajasthan Royals.
In the absence of Ashwin, the captaincy will have to be handed over to somebody else. At the moment, there is no obvious candidate for that job in the Punjab squad. Chris Gayle has been a former captain for West Indies but he no longer seems like a man capable of carrying the responsibility of the whole side.
India opener KL Rahul also finds himself in the mix but he is not the most senior player and doesn't have much experience of captaincy. Pace bowler Mohammad Shami is also unlikely to be entrusted with the task of leading the team as he has never been seen as a captaincy material. Then there is Mandeep Singh who plays for Punjab in Ranji Trophy and therefore is familiar with the conditions. Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal may also be in the running.
Perhaps, Kings XI will bring in a new player who can lead in their line-up. Or, they may consider one of the men mentioned above as good enough for the challenge of leadership.
In the 2019 season, the Ashwin-led side won only six of their 14 matches and lost the rest of them. Ashwin didn't do too badly himself but his lack of success as a captain may bring about his transfer. It would be interesting to see whether Kings XI also try and change their bowling strategy. Playing on a pitch that has traditionally favoured pace bowling, their attack last season was spin-heavy. Perhaps, they want to focus more on pace bowling.