December 14 2018
Despite having played in every season of the IPL, Preity Zinta’s Kings XI Punjab has never actually won the title. They will hope to do so in 2019 but before that they face the unenviable task of signing as many as 15 players at the upcoming auctions in Jaipur.
Ahead of the auctions, Punjab have released 11 players from their roster, which includes some big names like Aaron Finch, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Barinder Sran. This means that Punjab have a salary cap of Rs.36.2 crores with which they need to sign 11 Indians and 4 foreigners.
They have retained some of their stars like Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, David Miller and Ravichandran Ashwin. In Gayle and Rahul, they have their opening partnership intact while in Ashwin and Ur Rahman, they have their spin duo as well. It is the middle order and the pace departments that will need attention at the auctions. They have traded with Royal Challengers Bangalore to bring in Mandeep Singh instead of Marcus Stoinis. It is an astute buy as the hard hitter can chip in with valuable runs but they will need more big hitters within their ranks.
Ahead of the auctions, the team has released a list of 11 players who are on their radar. This includes Brendon McCullum who has been released by RCB. The veteran T20 star still has plenty of runs in him and he would undoubtedly be a valuable addition. Axar Patel is also on the list too. Punjab had to release him as he was taking up a huge chunk of the budget but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if they end up buying him back at a lower price. Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha who is expected to recover from his injury ahead of the IPL season is also on their radar.
West Indies big hitter Shimron Hetymer will be a main target for most teams at the auction and he is in Punjab’s wish list as well. But they will face some stiff challenge for his signature. Jaydev Unadkat who has been released by Rajasthan Royals could also be snapped up.
Talking of Indian talent, the likes of Sarfaraz Khan, Prabhsimran Singh and Shivam Dubey are available and Punjab will be keeping a track of them. Among the rookies, Ishan Porel, Mohit Jangra and Prithviraj Yarra will be value for money.
With the World Cup coming up soon after the IPL, several foreign stars could leave midway but Rovman Powell, Sherfane Rutherford and Fabian Allen are three players who are likely to be available all through IPL season 12 which is reason enough for Punjab to sign them.
All eyes will be on Punjab at the IPL auctions as they will have to splash the cash to snap up big names. Looking at their final squad, we’ll have a better idea whether this is going to be another season in the wilderness or if this could finally be Punjab’s turn to get their hands on the coveted trophy.