TEAM AT A GLANCE Support Staff: Brad Hodge (Coach), Mithun Manhas (Assistant Coach), Venkatesh Prasad (Bowling Coach), Nishanta Bordoloi (Fielding Coach), Ashish Tuli (Team Analyst), Varoon Parmar (Manager), Virendra Sehwag (Director of Cricket Operations), Nishant Thakur (Strength and conditioning coach), Shyamal Vallabjee (Technical Coach), Amit Tyagi (Physio), Naresh Kumar (Masseur), Vikram Hastir (Assistant Team Manager), Manoj Kumar (Sports Yoga Treacher)
Captain: Ravichandran Ashwin
Batsmen: Aaron Finch, David Miller, Karun Nair, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal
All-rounders: Axar Patel, Chris Gayle, Manzoor Dar, Marcus Stoinis, Pradeep Sahu, Yuvraj Singh
Wicket-keepers: Akshdeep Nath, KL Rahul
Bowlers: Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Barinder Sran, Ben Dwarshuis, Mayank Dagar, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Zadran*** Even as Kings XI Punjab prepares for the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) under new skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, it will hope for a turnaround in its fortunes, having failed to live up to the expectations it raised at the start of each of the past 10 seasons. The Punjab-based franchise managed to reach the top four only on a couple of occasions. They finished third in the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008 and then came agonisingly close to winning the title in 2014 but were denied by Kolkata Knight Riders. In the previous edition, they missed the play-offs by a whisker to eventually finish at the fifth spot. Ahead of the 2018 player auction, the Mohali-based side made its strategy quite clear of revamping a faltering team, by retaining only left-arm spinner Axar Patel. They however, used their right-to-match cards at the auction to keep some of their best players from the previous season in Australian Marcus Stoinis, South African David Miller and India discard Mohit Sharma. Besides roping in a new captain, the franchise invested heavily in hiring India opener Lokesh Rahul at a whopping Rs 11 crore along with Australian T20 specialists Andrew Tye and Aaron Finch. In terms of experience, the Kings XI squad can boast of the likes of West Indian power-hitter Chris Gayle and veteran Yuvraj Singh, who were both bought at their base prices of Rs 2 crore each. Punjab also have a solid middle-order with some proven Indian talent in their side. Domestic heavyweights Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Manoj Tiwary will likely to add depth to the Kings batting unit. With Rahul doubling up as the wicketkeeper, Punjab's all-round options will be shouldered mainly by Marcus Stoinis, Yuvraj and Axar.
Youngsters Mayank Dagar and Manzoor Dar can also be handy options with both the bat and ball. However, Punjab's bowling looks frail on paper despite being led by off-spinner Ashwin. With Axar in company, Afghanistan's Mujeeb Zadran may have to wait for his opportunity. Punjab's major cause of worry is the lack of big names in the pace department barring Tye. With young Ankit Rajpoot, the domestic duo of Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran will have a chance to use this season as a platform to get back in the national reckoning.