After parting ways with Ravichandran Ashwin and releasing some big names players in David Miller and Andrew Tye, Kings XI Punjab have the most remaining in their purse ahead of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auction. After releasing as many as seven players ahead of the auction in Kolkata on December 19, KXIP have INR 42.70 crores left in their purse and will hence be among the busiest teams at the annual gathering.
Miller is one player you generally associate with KXIP having been part of the squad since 2012 and hence the decision to part ways with the South African was indeed a big step for the franchise. But poor returns over the last few seasons in the middle order forced KXIP to release Miller this year. Andrew Tye was another player that failed to live up to the expectation and is also presently suffering from injuries. Moises Henriques had to depart midway through last season with a freak injury. But the big disappointment was Varun Chakravarthy who was roped in for a headline-grabbing INR 8.4 crores.
This implies, KXIP will once again look for a solid middle-order options in the impending auction having been plagued by the issue all through 2018 and 2019 season. The franchise found an indestructible opening pair in Chris Gayle and KL Rahul with Mayank Agarwal assisting them at the top-order. The opening pair won them most of their games, but on days when the two failed, KXIP lost bitterly.
KXIP will also be looking for a pace all-rounder having lost both Sam Curran and Henriques and a foreign pacer as a replacement for Tye. So, here are the three key players KXIP might target…
Pat Cummins: He is generally associated with Test cricket having dominated the top of ICC rankings in the traditional format for months, but Pat Cummins has over years managed to establish himself as a white-ball expert as well. In fact, as per the latest T20I rankings, Cummins is ranked seventh. In 25 games for Australia, he has picked 32 wickets at a decent economy rate of 6.67.
Cummins has his most impressive IPL season in 2017, the last time he was part of the cash-rich league, where he bagged 15 wickets in 12 matches at an economy rate of 8.70.
He can also emerge as a like-for-like replacement of his compatriot Tye who is a death-over specialist. In 25 games for Australia, Cummins has bowled 29 overs with the old ball, picking nine wickets at an impressive economy rate of 7.6.
Glenn Maxwell: He was previously associated with KXIP having even captained the franchise. But barring one season -- 2014 -- Maxwell failed to live up to the expectations he brought in as a premier T20 batsman. He had opted out of IPL last season owing to World Cup 2019 following which he took time off cricket owing to mental health issues. But Maxwell is back now and has been in an impressive form this year in T20 cricket. And with KXIP in dire need of a middle-order batsman, Maxwell could just be that perfect ingredient to spice up the batting lineup.
Jimmy Neesham: As a like-for-like replacement for Henriques and Curran, Neesham seems to be a perfect option as a pace all-rounder for KXIP. He has 104 T20 wickets in 99 innings at 25 an average and has the ability to bat down the order with a strike rate of 141.22.
Team KXIP before IPL 2020 auction
Squad: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, M Ashwin, Harpreet Brar, Darshan Nalkande
Traded: K Gowtham and J Suchith
Released: David Miller, Andrew Tye, Sam Curran, Moises Henriques, Prabhsimran Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi and Varun Chakravarthy.
Purse remaining: Rs 42.70 crores
Slots remaining: 9 (four overseas)