Kings XI Punjab have been a team that has underperformed in this tournament so far. They have always been seen as a side with potential but have always managed to find their way out of the tournament. They had one stand out season in 2014 under the leadership of George Bailey when they reached the finals, but have not really performed well as a team since then. They will however feel confident this season playing in UAE since they have a 100% win record at UAE. Glenn Maxwell was brilliant for them in the UAE leg of the 2014 season and they will expect him to perform well coming back to the Kings team this year. There has also been a change in structure where they have appointed KL Rahul as captain and have hired Anil Kumble as head coach which are both very positive signs.
They had a great start last year but lost their way and finished in the 6th place. They will be hoping to do better this year.
The batting unit is definitely the strength of Kings XI Punjab. KL Rahul has been prolific for them opening the innings to go with the likes of Gayle at the top makes it a dangerous opening combination. To strengthen their middle order, they have got Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran who are one of the best in the middle order at the moment. Apart from this, they have a number of talented batsman like Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh and Deepak Hooda which make it a serious batting line up with a lot of potential.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be an important member of the team given the conditions. He has been someone who has impressed all around the world playing in different leagues and should be able to continue that form into IPL as well.
Apart from Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the lack of a wicket taking and experienced spinner might hurt them this year. They will also miss a genuine Strike bowler who has the ability to run through the opposition.
Mohammad Shami is known to have phases of brilliance but is not consistent. He will need to step up his game for Punjab to have a chance.
Kings XI Punjab have a lot of batting options and will need to find the right balance. They might not be able to get 14 games out of Chris Gayle and hence should plan accordingly going into the tournament. When Chris Gayle is not available, they could use Nicholas Pooran in his place either opening the innings or in the middle order. Jimmy Neesham is also a good buy as he can contribute with the bat in the lower order and the ball as well. Glenn Maxwell and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will make it directly, and the two slots depends on how they decide to handle Chris Gayle.
KXIP Probable XI to start the tournament : 1) KL Rahul (c), 2) Chris Gayle, 3) Mayank Agarwal, 4) Glenn Maxwell, 5) Sarfaraz Khan, 6) Deepak Hooda, 7) Krishnappa Gowtham, 8) Chris Jordan, 9) Murugan Ashwin, 10) Mohammad Shami, 11) Mujeeb Ur Rahman
The Kings XI Punjab will rely on their batting to come good consistently. Their bowling unit has to step up and punch above their weight to be more competitive.