Kings XI Punjab all set for inaugural IPL championshipApril 15th, 2008 - 6:20 pm ICT by admin
Chandigarh, April 14 (IANS) Bollywood diva Preity Zinta and her industrialist beau Ness Wadia-owned Kings XI Punjab is one of the strongest teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the team management is confident of living up to the expectation in the inaugural Twenty20 tournament, starting Friday. Zinta and Wadia, along with renowned industrialists Karan Paul and Mohit Burman, pumped in a whopping $76 million to buy the Mohali team’s franchise for a period of 10 years.
They have also made a strategical investment of about $5 million in the players’ auction to get the best buy. Though the team management claims that they have got the players they wanted, their bench strength will be severely tested once the Australian and West Indies players leave for the series between in two countries in the Caribbean midway through the 44-day event.
“We have a very good team. We have a lot of dynamic players in the team. We have great mix of experienced and youngsters in the team, which is important in Twenty20 cricket. It will provide lot of energy and enthusiasm in the team,” said Kings XI CEO, Neil Maxwell, who represented Australian ‘A’ side as an all-rounder.
“Our bench strength is the weakest and it will be tested within two weeks once Lee, Simon Katich, James Hopes and Ramnaresh Sarwan leave on national duty,” he added.
The Yuvraj Singh-led team is a very young promising team with only three players being above 30 years of age, and Maxwell and it was consciously planned that way by the team’s think-tank at the time of the auction.
“Having a young energetic team was a part of our strategy at the player’s auction. From the start we were after three things - dynamic players, young and enthusiastic players and players with good personality,” he said.
The team also has shrewd coach in Tom Moody who has seen it all in the highest level as a player and as a coach. Moody, who was a member of Australia’s World Cup-winning squad in 1999, guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup final in 2007, before returning home to coach Western Australia.
The freshness of Kings XI in all departments of the game is its biggest plus point compared to other seven teams.
In Yuvraj, Mahela Jayawardene, Simon Katich, Kumar Sangakkara, and youngsters like Luke Pomersbach, Karan Goel, Uday Kaul and Tanmay Srivastava, the team has a formidable batting line-up.
Australian speedster Brett Lee will be spearheading the bowling attack with Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan in tow, slippery Kiwi customer Kyle Mills in support.
The only weak-link of the team is the absence of a quality spinner. The spin department, with Piyush Chawla, Ramesh Powar and Yuvraj, looks shaky and considering that the slow bowlers played a pivotal role in the Twenty20 World Cup on the fast South African pitches last year, they will be cursing on missing out homeboy Harbhajan Singh.
However, Maxwell has different take on the matter and said: “I don’t think our spin attack is a matter of concern. We have a good mix. We have six bowling options plus the services of Yuvraj. Anyways, the spinners are never going to bowl eight to nine overs in a Twenty20 match.”
“Twenty 20 is a lottery. On a given day, one good performance from any player can win the tournament.”
Strengths: The Kings have a balanced side, with an array of impressive batsmen and bowlers. The age is one their side and the team is basically a composition of youth and experienced. With the likes of Yuvraj, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Sarwan, Katich, Pomersbach in their ranks, Kings XI make for an awesome batting line-up. The Punjab team also have potent pace attack with Lee, Sreesanth, Irfan and Mills.
The side also has some very talented youngsters in India U-19 World Cup winning cricketers Srivastava, Kaul and Ajitesh Argal.
Though the King’s XI do not have any weakness on paper, two things might work against them, one the lack of bench strength and two the absence of a quality spinner.
Overseas players to watch out for:
Lee: The 31-year-old tearaway pacer from New South Wales — who rates Preity Zinta as his favourite actress — will definitely a nightmare for batsmen with his sheer ability to run through any batting line-up on any track with lightning pace. Lee’s speed allows batsmen less time to react, increasing their chances of making a mistake. Lee has the ability to change the complexion of a game on any surface in six deliveries.
Apart from being a tearaway pacer, Lee is also a handy batsman and is good in the outfield. He is averaging just over twenty in both Tests and ODIs.
Kumar Sangakkara: A technically sound middle-order batsman, Sangakkara churned his own niche in international cricket as one of best wicket-keeper batsmen. En route to his highest Test score of 287 against South Africa, Sangakkara has record partnership of 624 with Mahela Jayawardene in 2006. He is also member of the elite club of Test batsmen who have five or more double centuries to their credit.
The 30-year-old is a highly talented left-handed strokemaker, a slick wicketkeeper, a sharp-eyed strategist. His approach is naturally aggressive. Sangakkara will be a great value for Kings XI.
James Hopes: The Australian all-rounder was quoted the largest price of $300,000 at the second round of players’ auction because of his all-round skills he displayed in the recent Commonwealth Bank series against India. Basically, a medium-pacer, the 29-year-old Queenslander is a handy lower middle-order batsman who can hit the ball a fair distance. Because of his ability to come up with variations, Hopes is an ideal death-overs bowler.
Local players to watch out for:
Yuvraj Singh: Yuvraj is the captain of the Kings XI Punjab. The southpaw became the first player to hit six sixes in a Stuart Broad over during last year’s Twenty20 World Cup match against England. He is a naturally gifted timer of the ball and has the capability of tearing away any bowling attack on any soil. Because of his strong, fearless character both on and off the field, many youngsters see him as idol. In a span of eight years, Yuvraj has become the vice-captain of the Indian ODI team.
Sreesanth: The 25-year-old Kerela pacer is known for his on-field exuberance. Sreesanth is the first Kerala bowler to take a hat-trick in a Ranji trophy game. The pacer has a remarkable wicket-taking ability and providing breakthroughs.
Tanmay Srivastava: The young left-hand batsman from Uttar Pradesh admires Rahul Dravid as his idol and is regarded as one of brightest prospects of Indian cricket. He played a key part in India U-19 World Cup triumph this year in Malaysia, finishing as the top scorer of the tournament with 262 runs. His batting skills and ability to lead from the front makes him a great watch in the inaugural IPL tournament.
Yuvraj Singh (India, Icon player), Irfan Pathan(India, $9,25,000), Ramesh Powar (India, $1,70,000), Sreesanth (India, $6,25,000), Piyush Chawla (India, $4,00,000), James Hopes (Australia, $3,00,000), Simon Katich (Australia, $2,00,000), Brett Lee (Australia,$9,00,000), Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka, $4,75,000), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, $7,00,000), Ramnaresh Sarwan (West Indies, $2,25,000), Kyle Mills, Shaun Marsh, Luke Pomersbach, Ajitesh Argal, Pankaj Dharmani, Rishi Dhawan, Karan Goel, Uday Kaul, Sahil Kukreja, Wilkin Mota, Nitin Saini, V.R.V Singh, Sunny Sohal, Tanmay Srivastava
Tags: bench strength, best buy, burman, countries in the caribbean, energetic team, enthusiastic players, good personality, industrialist, industrialists, lee simon, management claims, mohit, ness wadia, preity zinta, promising team, simon katich, team management, team profile, tom moody, yuvraj singh