Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) mentor Virender Sehwag firmly believes that a bowling captain is more effective than a batting one and this is what makes spinner Ravichandran Ashwin the perfect pick for the leadership role in the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League. Hailing him for his vision, Sehwag said that he is one of the smartest cricketing brains he has come across so far in his life.
“As far as I've observed him on field, be it his bowling or field placement, he is one of the smartest cricketers. In T20, you need a captain like him who can read a batsman first and then bowl and place the field accordingly,” he told India TV during the show ‘Cricket Ki Baat’.
“If a bowler sets his field and knows what to bowl to a particular batsman, he can share that experience with the rest of the players and can get the best out of the given situation,” Sehwag added.
According to the 39-year-old former India opener, a bowler is more effective in captaincy role than a batsman. “A batsman, when leads, thinks from a run-scoring perspective, while a bowler can think on the lines that who can bowl at what circumstances and how the team can defend small totals. In my opinion, a bowling captain is more effective than a batting one.
Kings XI Punjab will commence their IPL 2018 campaign, facing Delhi Daredevils at the IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali, on April 8. Sehwag, who led Delhi in the inaugural edition of the IPL, said KXIP will put their best foot forward in the opening match, adding that the current squad is “stronger” than the ones they had in past decade.
“If we compare the current team with the ones we saw in the last decade, I feel this one is the strongest. We worked hard in building the right combination. We spent a lot of money in the auction and kept our focus on the Indian players as it is Indian Premier League and only Indians can make a difference here.
“A strong start is important as it increases your chances of qualification for the play-offs. Though, we have seen in past how some teams have made a comeback after a poor start. It's important to create a momentum and keep it intact throughout the season to better your chances,” the mentor said.
Sehwag added that he has built the team with a vision of three years down the line and expects its core to be the same in forthcoming seasons of the cash-rich league.
“We have prepared the team with three years in perspective. Every season, some new faces may join but the core will be the same. With a new team, we are currently working on the team building aspect, but our eventual goal is to clinch the trophy,” he added.
The Delhi batsman was a part of the Kings XI Punjab team that concluded as runners-up in the IPL 2014. However, his fortunes as a mentor didn’t shine much as KXIP failed to show consistency in the last few seasons of the T20 league.
Sehwag expressed his confidence in his boys for this season, saying, “As a player, I haven't won an IPL title but have played final. As a mentor with Kings XI Punjab, I haven't managed to guide them to the final so far but I feel optimistic as we have a strong team this season. This set of players has defeated all those teams who went on to become champions in IPL.
In the 2018 IPL Auction, held in Bengaluru in January, Sehwag appeared fearless as he didn’t hesitate to buy the best of the talent for his team. One of the most surprising picks by the Preity Zinta-owned franchise was West Indies superstar Chris Gayle, who was bought at his base price Rs 2 crore.
Sehwag didn’t shy to call Gayle a power-hitter, adding that he may not get to play much of the games and the West Indian understands the requirement of the team.
“He’s a superstar but a great human being as well. He knows only four foreigners can play in a match and that too according to the needs of the team. And he understands that an Indian is more valuable than a foreign player in IPL,” Sehwag said.
Talking about the relevance of balance in a team, former aggressive batsman mentioned Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore claiming that their bowlers let them down despite a good by the batsmen.
“Batsmen set the game for you but bowlers win matches in T20. Virat Kohli had a formidable batting line-up in past seasons of IPL but he couldn't lead them to the victory. KKR had a great bowling line-up but that didn't ensure they win every season of the IPL. So that is the balance and x-factors that turn match-winners on occasions,” Sehwag concluded.
KXIP 2018 COMPLETE SQUAD
Ravichandran Ashwin (C), Axar Patel, KL Rahul, Andrew Tye, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Zadran, Ankit Rajpoot, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, Ben Dwarshuis, Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Manzoor Dar, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar