The Indian Premier League auction on December 19 will see teams bidding for more than 300 players to fill up 73 slots (with 29 of those for overseas players). This is a mini-auction with some teams opting to retain bulk of their side while a few have opted for a revamp. The auction for IPL 2021 will offer teams a chance to reset their squads so this year, it will be about preparing for just the upcoming season and not exactly looking at the long haul. In this series, we take a look at what teams need for the upcoming season.
Kings XI Punjab are going to be busy at the auction table. Again.
For years, the team has been in transition and it looks like 2020 will also be about trying to find the right combinations instead of going in with a settled team for the Mohali-based franchise in the IPL. Gautam Gambhir, two-time IPL winning captain, has repeatedly said that half the job of building a champion team is at the auction table and KXIP have repeatedly faltered at that.
And now, having moved past the Ashwin Ravichandran project, KXIP have the Anil Kumble era to look forward to. While many expected Kumble to form a potent combination with Ashwin, the franchise traded the off-spinner to Delhi Capitals and are looking at rebuilding again.
Come December 19, KXIP are set to be the busiest side in the bidding hall as they have the biggest budget among all teams.
Purse available: Rs 42.70 crores
Remaining slots: 9
Overseas player slots: 4
Players released before auction (7): David Miller, Andrew Tye, Sam Curran, Agnivesh Ayachi, Moises Henriques, Prabsimran Singh and Varun Chakravarthy.
Current KXIP squad composition
|Chris Gayle||Mohammed Shami||K Gowtham||KL Rahul|
|Mayank Agarwal||Mujeeb ur Rahman||Nicholas Pooran|
|Karun Nair||Arshdeep Singh|
|Sarfaraz Khan||Hardus Viljoen|
|Mandeep Singh||M Ashwin|
Strengths of current squad
The one area where the team is well stocked is the bowling department, especially with the spinners. Despite losing the services of Ashwin and releasing the most expensive buy of the previous auction (Varun Chakravarthy) there is no shortage of quality spinners in this KXIP side.
Top order batting is another strong point for Punjab and they improved from a two-man show in 2018 to a three-man show in 2019 with Mayank Agarwal providing good support to Chris Gayle and KL Rahul. If Gayle is still motivated and firing, that top three is as good as any other in the league. Add Nicholas Pooran to the mix, should he play regularly this season (like he must have all along last year) and that’s quite a first-choice batting order to work with.
What the team needs at the auction
First things first, a leader. While reports have suggested Rahul is an option to become the captain for the side, it will be a mistake on the franchise to gamble on giving their best batsman who might also be keeping wickets, and will also be under pressure to fire consistently to keep his place in the national side, who will also have to do the bulk of the run-scoring for the side, to be the leader on the pitch.
Kumble will be better served handing over the reigns to a proven customer and with a large budget remaining, can bid big for someone like Aaron Finch or Eoin Morgan. The addition of Morgan will be the more logical option as he simultaneously strengthens the middle order, one of the other problem areas in the side. The team would want to add a couple of domestic players to shore up their middle order as well and Hanuma Vihari could be an option if they need an experienced head to steady the ship in case of a top order collapse.
The pace bowling department is another area the team is desperately short of quality. Shami, who has never had the best of records in the IPL, did well last season but he is the only real automatic pick in the squad. Andrew Tye has been released as well after a poor season but given his record for them in the past, could be brought back for cheap. Kumble and Co will be looking for quality pace bowlers from both India and overseas. Sheldon Cottrell would be one of their prime picks, one would think.
Another area where the team is lacking (in both quality and quantity) is the allrounder slots. Big money buy Sam Curran was let go as was Moises Henriques. The franchise will need to shore up this department without a doubt and could look at offering Marcus Stoinis another go. Chris Morris is another option to look at although the allrounder has often flattered to deceive in the league.
KXIP would do well to not throw money around on unproven talent and look at the short-term to build a squad that has T20 experience.