With Yuvraj, Ashwin, Gayle in the side, who will lead Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2018?

Kings XI Punjab made headlines for their aggressive bidding in IPL 2018 auction but got criticised for not picking a captain and a regular wicketkeeper

Kings XI Punjab were more aggressive than ever in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 auctions. Mentor Virender Sehwag and owner Preity Zinta were seen bidding for almost every player in the first few rounds of Day 1 of the auction. Despite RTM (Right to Match) card playing spoilsport at times, they managed to rope in star players on their side.

At the end of the auction, KXIP are left with only Rs 10 lakh. But here’s the big question – who will lead KXIP?

The IPL 2018 pool of players was filled with players who were potential captains for the franchise. England skippers Joe Root, Eoin Morgan went unsold in the auctions. They did not even go big for New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson who was brought for Rs 3 crore by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Looking at the squad of KXIP, there are five clear candidates for the job — Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Aaron Finch, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle.

Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj has captained the KXIP side in the first two seasons of IPL. He is back in the side after playing for franchises like Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the previous seasons. KXIP got a steal-deal as the final bid for the all-rounder was Rs 2.8 crore.

Yuvraj led the side to the semi-finals of the inaugural season. They were placed second in the points table with 10 wins from 14 games. However, KXIP missed out on the semi-final spot in the next season by a whisker with 7 wins from 14 games. His win percentage (58.62) is the highest in the history of KXIP’s 10-year long existence. They have had 10 captains so far.

He might lead KXIP once again after a long gap of 8 years. They desperately need someone experienced to take over in the new season and set the pace in years to come.

R Ashwin

The next in the line is R Ashwin. KXIP roped him in for a whopping Rs 7.6 crore bettering the bid from Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Since the end of the auction, there have been talks that Ashwin should lead KXIP. In the past, KXIP made David Hussey, David Miller, Murali Vijay and Glenn Maxwell captains. This time, they might choose Ashwin — banking upon his 9 years of experience in IPL and being a part of two-time winner franchise.

Ashwin has led Dindigul Dragons in the semi-final of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) 2016. At present, he is the popular choice for the captaincy.

Chris Gayle

IPL Auction 2018 was a shocker for the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’. He remained unsold in the first two rounds and got third time lucky as KXIP bought him for his base price, Rs 2 crore. Gayle has had a decent record captaining Jamaica Tallawahs for four years and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots for one year Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Gayle led Jamaica to semi-finals in two seasons and final in one. He also led St Kitts to final in the previous edition of CPL.

Gayle is a veteran of T20 cricket and knows the game inside out. He will be thriving to prove himself in this edition of IPL as franchises ignored him despite being the all-time highest run-scorer of T20 cricket.

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KL Rahul 

Rahul missed the entire season of IPL 2017 due to his shoulder injury. He was missed by RCB who ended up at the bottom of the table. He was roped in by KXIP for Rs 11 crore. The 25-year-old had a fruitful season in 2016 where RCB reached the finals. Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has backed Rahul ahead of Yuvraj and Ashwin. KXIP have made their lead batsman as the captain, they might do it this time around as well.

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Aaron Finch

The explosive Australian opening batsman is in a marvellous form at this point in time. He scored three 50-plus scores on the trot including in the recently concluded ODI series against England. Finch has led Australia in 9 T20I matches and won 4 out of them. He is a T20 veteran as well and has had a great record in IPL. He has also led Melbourne Renegades in Big Bash League (BBL). Finch is also one of the top picks for KXIP’s vacant captain spot.

KXIP have had seven overseas captains in the past including 4 Australians. It is a possibility that Finch becomes the fifth Australian on the list.

Kings XI Punjab full squad:

Axar Patel (Retained, Rs 6.5 crore), Ravichandran Ashwin (Rs 7.6 crore), Karun Nair (Rs 5.6 crore), KL Rahul (Rs 11 crore), David Miller (3 crore Retained via RTM), Aaron Finch (Rs 6.2 crore), Yuvraj Singh (Rs 2 crore), Marcus Stoinis (Rs 6.2 crore Retained via RTM), Mayank Agarwal (Rs 1 crore), Ankit Singh Rajpoot (Rs 3 crore), Manoj Tiwary (Rs 1 crore), Mohit Sharma (Rs 2.4 crore Retained via RTM), Mujeeb Zadran (Rs 4 crore), Barinder Sran (Rs 2.2 crore), Andrew Tye (Rs 7.2 crore), Akshdeep Nath (Rs 1 crore), Ben Dwarshuis (Rs 1.4 crore), Mayank Dagar (Rs 20 Lakh), Pradeep Sahu (Rs 20 Lakh), Chris Gayle, (Rs 2 crore)

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