We often talk about how Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have faltered and haven’t won even a single IPL title. However, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have arguably been one of the worst-performing sides in the history of the IPL as well.
In fact, they have made it to the playoffs on just two occasions – 2008 and 2014. And that is the least for any team that has played at least five seasons.
Over the last couple of seasons, KXIP have had a strong team. In fact, they started very well too and it looked like they would make the playoffs pretty easily.
Despite building a winning streak in the first half and being positioned at the top of the points table, KXIP slipped and crumbled in the second half. It was the case in both 2018 and 2019 as they finished seventh and sixth respectively.
The 2014 IPL finalists went into the auction and bought some big players. They spent money on some white-ball superstars and once again seem to have a strong team. They retained most of their batting core with the addition of Glenn Maxwell and they will be banking on them to take them through in this season.
Thus, here are three players who could win the Orange Cap and put KXIP in a good position. Only once has a KXIP player won the Orange Cap in the history of the IPL and that was Shaun Marsh in the inaugural IPL (2008).
It was back in 2013 that KL Rahul made his IPL debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). He played just two innings and made 20 runs. He moved to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for a couple of years but didn’t really make it count.
In 20 games across two seasons, he averaged 23.69 and had a strike-rate of 106.21 while amassing 308 runs. It was during that phase that the Karnataka lad made his Test debut as well.
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Thus, he was remarked as a ‘Test specialist’ for the patience and grit he showed. However, the tide turned in 2016. He was back to the RCB setup and showcased his wide range of shots and his T20 game.
Rahul proved to the world that he is no mug in the white-ball format. Despite not being able to play at his preferred opening slot for a large part of the season, the Bengaluru boy scored 397 runs at a strike-rate of 146.49.
And over the last couple of seasons, Rahul has become a beast in the IPL. He missed the 2017 season due to injury and was not retained by RCB in the 2018 auctions. KXIP bought him and he has been their premier batsman.
In the last two seasons combined, Rahul has aggregated 1252 runs which is the most by any player in the IPL since the start of 2018. He averages 54.43 and has a strike-rate of 146.60 as well. Both times he was in the top five but couldn’t win the Orange Cap. This time he could be eyeing the big prize.
Glenn Maxwell is back at KXIP. The Australian superstar has been at this franchise for the most part of his IPL career. He made his debut with Delhi Daredevils (now, Capitals) in 2012 and then played for Mumbai Indians in 2013.
However, in those two seasons combined, Maxwell turned out for a mere five games. He barely had any performance of note as well.
Thus, it was only when he moved to KXIP in 2014 that Maxwell turned up. He was in fine form in 2014 as he made 552 runs at an average of 34.50 and had a strike-rate of 187.76.
But 2014 was the only season where he was consistent. He was good in the 2017 season as well where he scored 310 runs striking at 173.18. In the other three seasons, Maxwell hasn’t managed to score even 200 runs.
However, Maxwell has a very good record in the UAE. He averages 35.33 and has a strike-rate of 166.93. In fact, Maxwell scored 300 runs at an average of 60 and a strike-rate of 201.34 when the IPL was moved to the UAE in 2014 for the first half. Thus, this could well be Maxwell’s time in the IPL once again.
Back in 2011, Chris Gayle’s career took a drastic turn. After scoring 463 runs at an average of 30.87 and a strike-rate of 141.59 across two seasons, Gayle wasn’t picked in the 2011 IPL auction.
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However, a few games into the 2011 season, Gayle was called in by RCB as a replacement for Dirk Nannes and as they say, the rest is history.
He went on to become the Universe Boss and a T20 legend. He has been scoring truckload of runs across all T20 leagues around the world. No player is even close to Gayle’s record in T20 cricket.
He has dominated the IPL for years as well. Gayle won the Orange Cap in two back to back seasons – 2011 and 2012. He scored 700+ runs in 2013 as well and had an excellent season in 2015 as well.
But for a brief period in 2016 and 2017, it seemed like Gayle was tapering off and hence, he was released by RCB ahead of the 2018 edition. However, KXIP bought him in the last round and Gayle has not disappointed. In the last two seasons, the Universe Boss has scored 858 runs at an average of 40.86 and a strike-rate of 150.26.
This year, Gayle hasn’t played much and last played in the Bangladesh Premier League in January. Hence, he will be hungry to perform and get back to his smashing best.