New Delhi: Kings XI Punjab’s fans would’ve been a disgruntled lot till last week. In the six editions of the Indian Premier League, the team had only made the play-offs once. Over the years, due to a variety of factors, some of which were beyond their control, they developed a reputation for being stingy and satisfied to be in the middle of the table. Not anymore.
With the addition of former India all-rounder Sanjay Bangar to their think tank coach, Punjab built a team that is one of strongest among all the IPL franchises.
And they did this while saving over Rs 4 crore from the total purse of Rs 60 crore.
Bangar admitted the team was greatly improved in relation to last year, which was Adam Gilchrist’s last as captain-coach of franchise.
"We’ve got high impact players in relation to earlier. They’ll add a lot of value the team. They have the potential dictate matches during crunch situations,” the long-tenured former Railways captain told Mail Today.
Asked how Kings XI had ended up with such bargain buys as Mitchell Johnson for Rs 6.5 crore and Virender Sehwag for Rs 3.2 crore, he said: “There are so many forces work during the auction process. Some teams had lesser money and had their limits for particular players. It’s a combination of factors, and I can’t really pinpoint any one thing.”
Punjab seem to have a ready-made captain in Australian T20 skipper George Bailey, but Bangar says a decision will be taken by team’s board of directors in due course.
"Unlike the state associations, the IPL has a corporate structure and the board of directors needs to ratify any decision. There’s still while to go till the IPL, so we’ll get it done time,” he said.
Few of KXIP’s moves at auction were perplexing — buying just one wicket-keeper and waiting till the very end to buy Bangar’s old Railways mate Murali Kartik as their lead spinner.
He explained: “Wicket-keepers a special category, and we’ve an amazing one in Wriddhiman Saha. In case he gets injured, we’ll take a replacement from the unsold pool. I thought it was a good option to be exercised only in case the need arises."
“As regards our purported lack of spinners till we bought Kartik, on the first day, we were looking at getting a leg-spinner, and an experienced one at that. Amit Mishra was our target. Once we didn’t get him, the only spinner remaining on our wishlist was Kartik. We knew we’d be able to get him on the second day. He brings tremendous value to the side with his experience and economy, and with three young spinners in the squad, he’ll be very useful in mentoring them.”
A lot of experts have credited Bangar as the brains behind this squad, but the self-effacing former cricketer says he’s basically building on foundations laid by the previous regime.
“Manan Vohra, for example, is someone who’s very highly rated by the previous management, so we retained him. We’ve only tried to build on the foundations laid by them. My long association with the Railways has helped me understand this — be it cricket, administration, man management or mentoring, continuity is very crucial. With this squad, we can aim for the top,” he said.
ALSO SEE - Most Expensive Uncapped Players at IPL-7 auction