With too many options available, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had a tough time choosing the right captain in the previous season of Indian Premier League (IPL), and the story looks almost the same in IPL 2017. However, the selectors have settled for Glenn Maxwell — their overall 9th captain. He will lead the side in team’s first home match, against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), in Saturday’s first of the double-header. All the same, RPS’ newly appointed captain Steven Smith blasted an unbeaten 84 to gift his side a comprehensive 7-wicket win against the star-studded Mumbai Indians. Hence, KXIP would be wary of the Australian juggernaut in this all-important encounter. Live Cricket Scorecard, Kings XI Punjab vs Rising Pune Supergiant, IPL 2017
Holkar Stadium in Indore is KXIP’s second home ground. The wicket, however, has traditionally been helpful for pacers and some extra bounce is expected for them. For RPS, in such circumstances, Lockie Ferguson might turn out to be a good option, but that means they will have to draft out one of their four overseas players from the previous match. Besides, all three foreign bowlers did well for RPS in the previous match, and it will be a harsh call if one of them is benched. Both domestic pacers, Ashok Dinda and Deepak Chahar, were ordinary. While the Bengal veteran went for an economy over 14 without taking any wicket, Smith gave only 2 overs to Chahar. Amidst the thrashing, all-rounder Rajat Bhatia shone with his medium-pace bowling.
As for KXIP, the problem of having many overseas players puts them in enigma. Looking at how the pitch has traditionally behaved, Matt Henry finds a spot in the starting XI. Another name can be T Natarajan who has impressed everyone with his bowling in Tamil Nadu Premier League. Natarajan’s secret weapon is his toe-crushing yorkers, which he is able to bowl on consistent basis. His famed super over in TNPL that gave away just 5 runs, including a wicket, proves that he has nerves of steel and can be used for death bowling. KXIP find another talented domestic pacer in Shardul Thakur who deserves a chance in the XI after his consistent performance in Ranji Trophy.
Coming to spin attack, RPS definitely have the edge with Imran Tahir in the side. The leg-spinner showed why he holds the top spot in T20I bowling with his three-for in the opening fixture. KXIP, on the other hand, will be mainly dependent on Akshar Patel as well as their skipper Maxwell who can roll his arm in the time of need.
With Henry and Maxwell taking up two of the four overseas spots, KXIP will have to choose the other two from Marcus Stoinis, Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh, Eoin Morgan, Darren Sammy and David Miller. It will be a hard choice for KXIP, as there will be too many contenders for the same spot.
With Murali Vijay ruled out, KXIP will need Martin Guptill to open with Manan Vohra, but the New Zealander is yet again suffering from hamstring injury. This leaves us with Amla, but it depends what composition the new captain wants.
Sammy has a long career in T20s, while Morgan has his wide range of shots to boast of. Meanwhile, Marsh is the only foreign player to have played for the same team since the inception of IPL, and is likely to be the fourth overseas player in the KXIP arsenal. Wriddhiman Saha, on the contrary, will be one name that KXIP are sure to include in the XI, for his role behind the stumps as well as staggering knocks.
RPS have earlier taken the field with a sorted XI, although their bowlers failed to apply themselves sensibly. After a good show with the bat in the previous fixture, Smith might not want to disturb the balance in the batting order. With the captain himself in a terrific form and Ajinkya Rahane contributing in bulk, they will have very little to worry about.
And of course, there is MS Dhoni…
Kings XI Punjab: Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Eoin Morgan, Glenn Maxwell (c), Akshar Patel, Nikhil Naik, Gurkeerat Mann, Matt Henry, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur
Rising Pune Supergiant: Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Steven Smith (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Ben Stokes, Manoj Tiwary, Rajat Bhatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Ashok Dinda, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir
Kings XI Punjab: Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Martin Guptill, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Akshar Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Gurkeerat Singh, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, M Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Hashim Amla, Ishant Sharma
Rising Pune Supergiant: MS Dhoni (wk), Steven Smith (c), Mayank Agarwal, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Ankit Sharma, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Daniel Christian, Rahul Chahar, Ashok Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson, Usman Khawaja, Jaskaran Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Milind Tondon, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, Adam Zampa
Time: 16:00 IST | 10.30 GMT