After having endured a terrible season last year, Kings XI Punjab have revamped their entire outfit. Although they have changed both the captain and coach, they have shown trust in the nucleus of the team and have beefed it up this season with few deft signings.
Apart from having a brilliant top order batting line-up, they can also boast of having the best Indian bowling attack in the competition and this is where they can emerge as the dark horses this season.
Glenn Maxwell will take charge of the team and will hope this eggs him on to bring back his 2014 form. He might well open the batting as this new found position has given him a lot of success playing for Australia.
Here’s what their probable playing XI will look for their first match against the Rising Pune Supergiant.
Openers: Manan Vohra
The young man has sparkled at the IPL but has never kicked on to make a name for himself. However, he has all the ability and talent to do wonders in the shortest format and if he gets a long rope this season he could well be the man for Punjab.
He has all the strokes and makes great use of the powerplays and if he manages to back all his promise with steely temperament, he could well emerge as the biggest gains this season.
In 34 matches in the IPL, the right-hander has scored 728 runs at an average of 24 and a strike rate of 129.53.
This might come as a surprise but Maxwell has tasted success as an opener in the recent past and could well carry this trend into the IPL. Also, he is the captain now which means he should lead by example and this position could well allow him to express himself better.
He had a miserable run previous year, but he is a changed player in 1 year. After having notched up his maiden century in Test matches, the mercurial player comes into this league brimming with confidence. He is a confidence player and now with the added responsibility of captaining the side, Maxwell could well be the x-factor for Kings XI this season.
Middle order: Wriddhiman Saha
The wicket-keeper batsman has become a mainstay in the Indian Test team, but this by no means is an indication of his prowess as an uninhibited stroke-maker in T20s.
He is an experienced player now and can be an ideal number 3 batsman for the side as he can both rotate the strike as well as play the big strokes if and when the situation demands.
The England limited overs captain makes his move up north from Hyderabad and Virender Sehwag was thrilled to have him in his ranks. With his experience and ability, he could be the fulcrum of this batting order for this season.
Also, he is in good nick as was evident from the just-concluded series against India and this holds the Punjab team in good stead going forward.
The left-hander from South Africa has been with Kings XI Punjab for a very long time and has been part of the squad through the good times in 2014 and then the misery that followed in the following seasons.
He was appointed captain last season but had to step down as the team was not winning. However, this season he could go ahead and express himself better as he is one of the main members of the middle order Along with Morgan at number 4, Miller could pose a significant threat to any bowling attack.
The All-rounders: Axar Patel
The left-arm spinning all-rounder has made rapid progress in International cricket and will be one of the vital cogs in the Kings XI lineup, both with his astute bowling and finishing abilities. Last year he played quite a few cameos towards the end and the management would hope he converts these small contributions into substantial scores this season.
He is also an asset in the field but is coming off an injury which he sustained during the 5th Test match in Chennai against England. However, he has some match practice as he picked up 7 wickets in 4 matches in the just concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, the domestic 50-over competition.
The hard-hitting all-rounder from Australia made all the right news when he smashed 146 to pull off an amazing heist against New Zealand. He has also grown as a player and is much more confident in his abilities both with the bat and ball.
He was drafted in to replace the injured Mitchell Marsh for the Test series and although he did not get a game his amazing progress into the Test team is a testament to his bowling pedigree.
He could be the finisher Kings XI would love this season and with immense potential, Stoinis could make this season his own.
Spinner: KC Cariappa
The mystery spinner from Karnataka surprised many with his price tag the previous season. He, however, did not get many games to prove his mettle and this season could be that opportunity for the young man.
Cariappa will be under additional pressure as Kings XI do not experience in the spin bowling department and hence the management would hope he takes the ground running from the word go.
Seam Bowlers: Sandeep Sharma
The right arm swing bowler has been a consistent performer for the team and this season would be no different for him.
He has been in decent form in the domestic circuit and would once again be responsible for providing good starts with the ball and then come back with yorkers towards the death overs.
After being snubbed in the auction, Ishant was given a fresh lease when Kings XI roped him in place of Murali Vijay. Sehwag says he has immense faith in Ishant and the lanky bowler would love to make a statement to all his detractors this season.
Also, with the Champions Trophy slated to be held after the IPL, this could be a great opportunity for him to throw his hat in the ring as far as selection for the ICC tournament is concerned.
He will the unknown commodity in the Kings XI line-up. This left-armer from Tamil Nadu impressed one and all during the Tamil Nadu Premier League and continued his good form into the Ranji Trophy.
With his left-arm angle, he could provide the variation needed to the bowling attack. Watch out for some toe crushing yorkers towards the end of the innings.