Predicted Playing XI: KL Rahul (c&wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran*, Glenn Maxwell*, Deepak Hooda, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ravi Bishnoi, Sheldon Cottrell*, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb ur Rahman*
Substitutes (by order of playing XI chances): Chris Gayle*, James Neesham*, Chris Jordan*, Murugan Ashwin, Ishan Porel, Jagadeesha Suchith, Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Tajinder Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Arshdeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen*, Harpreet Brar, Prabhsimran Singh
Vulnerable Spots: Sheldon Cottrell, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Ravi Bishnoi
Sheldon Cottrell – Sheldon Cottrell is one of the world’s most effective Powerplay bowlers, courtesy of his ability to both swing and seam the new ball. Cottrell could, however, be vulnerable at the death. And in a team that has Mohammed Shami, another pacer who struggles at the back end of the innings, Kings XI risk leaking plenty of runs.
So if Cottrell isn’t able to make enough of an impact up front to compensate for his limitations, the think-tank might be tempted to replace him with Chris Jordan at some point in the tournament. Incidentally, this is also the year where his Powerplay bowling has been at his weakest: bowling average of 37.8 in the first 6 overs.
That they also have the likes of Ishan Porel and Darshan Nalkande, two of India’s better new ball bowlers, only makes the decision easier for them, should it come to that.
Potential replacements for the spot: Chris Jordan, Ishan Porel, Darshan Nalkande
Mujeeb ur Rahman – Prior to the UAE switch, Mujeeb ur Rahman may not have been in KXIP’s plans. Now that the IPL has moved to the UAE and that he is coming off a successful CPL stint, the 19-year-old could very well be back in the mix.
Chances of him holding on to his spot, however, don’t look great, unless he changes his bowling approach against right-handers, a batting type that has had the better of him in the IPL.
Potential replacements for the spot: Chris Jordan, Chris Gayle, James Neesham
Deepak Hooda/Sarfaraz Khan – Kings XI have plenty of local batting options in their squad - Karun Nair, Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Mandeep Singh, and Tajinder Singh, which is a pre-season fantasy nightmare. You can neither predict who will get in nor back those who start the season to last the duration of it.
Potential replacements for the spot: Karun Nair, Mandeep Singh, Tajinder Singh
Fantasy set-up influencer: Chris Gayle being benched
With Glenn Maxwell still on national duty in England, Chris Gayle should start in the first game. But there are some indicators from the KXIP camp that he may not be part of their full-season plans. Maxwell coming into the setup and Nicholas Pooran’s rising stature on the international circuit should make them the first-choice overseas batting options.
If Gayle doesn’t convert his first chance and KXIP choose to drop him, the move could have a significant impact on the fantasy potential of players involved:
1. Mayank Agarwal moving up to opening the innings (Fantasy potential: Up)
2. Nicholas Pooran in the XI and at No.4 (Fantasy potential: Up)
3. One of James Neesham/Mujeeb ur Rahman/Chris Jordan in the XI (Fantasy potential: Up)
What’s the fantasy value against Kings XI Punjab?
Pace bowling: Kings XI Punjab are the most vulnerable batting unit against pace in the competition, so don’t miss out on the league’s best fast bowlers against them. The KL Rahul-led team have the worst run rate (8.7 runs per over), worst average (26.7 runs per wicket) and worst balls per wicket ratio (one wicket every 18.4 balls) in the league since 2017.
Pace bowling options against KXIP: Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada, Jofra Archer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Chris Morris, Pat Cummins
Pace power-hitters: As discussed in the ‘Vulnerable spot – Sheldon Cottrell’ section of the article, Kings XI also have one of the weakest death bowling units in the competition, which brings the league’s best power hitters into play.
Power-hitting options against KXIP: Andre Russell, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, AB de Villiers
Fantasy Ranking Order
1. KL Rahul – KL Rahul (51.53) is one of the only 3 batsmen who averages 50+ runs per wicket since 2016, with David Warner (62.31) and Jonny Bairstow (55.63) being the other two. Batting at the top, in form, and keeping wickets, Rahul at No.1 is a no-brainer.
2. Glenn Maxwell – Not many players with the IPL track record of Glenn Maxwell would have got a contract this year, especially one as hefty as he did. However, given that he has one now and that this ranking order is only relative to other options in the squad, Maxwell still finds himself at the very top of the list.
IPL moving to the UAE and his all-round value add to his fantasy scoring points potential.
3. Mayank Agarwal – Another KXIP player whose clock is ticking. But back opening the innings and with some international success behind him, this could very well be the year Mayank Agarwal plays to his potential in the IPL. As a result, the 29-year-old could easily turn out to be one of the best season differentials.
4. Nicholas Pooran – One of the world’s most dangerous middle-order batsmen, Nicholas Pooran should ideally be higher in the order. But he isn’t because in the KXIP set-up, his wicketkeeping points are taken away by Rahul and his game time clashes with Maxwell.
The 24-year-old is expected to bat at No.4 in the batting order, but you can foresee situations where the KXIP think-tank will be tempted to promote a bigger name in Maxwell. And such a move could have a negative effect on Pooran’s fantasy potential.
5. Krishnappa Gowtham – After an impressive debut in 2018, Krishnappa Gowtham’s returns nosedived in 2019. It is too early to lose hope on him though, considering how good a first-class record he has and that the decks in the UAE suit his style of bowling better.
6. Sheldon Cottrell – At his best, Sheldon Cottrell would be ranked higher, but this ranking order takes into account his recent form and the uncertainty surrounding his position (refer to the ‘Vulnerable spot – Sheldon Cottrell section’ of the article) in the team.
7. Mohammed Shami – Mohammed Shami is amongst the world’s best in Tests and ODIs, but when it comes to T20s, the Indian stalwart has had his issues, both up front and at the death.
8. Mujeeb ur Rahman – Refer to the ‘vulnerable spot – Mujeeb ur Rahman’ section of the article.
9. Ravi Bishnoi/Murugan Ashwin – While Ravi Bishnoi could become a star in the future, KXIP don’t have an established wristspinner at this stage. And this could mean some chopping and changing with the two options they have in the squad, which is not ideal from a fantasy point of view.
10. Sarfaraz Khan – Sarfaraz Khan’s stellar season in the first-class circuit improves his chances of getting some good game time with KXIP. If the Mumbai youngster bats in the top 4, he could become one of the best steals of the tournament.
Season Picks - Bankers, steals, and differentials:
Top banker: KL Rahul
Top differential(s): Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran
Top steal(s): Sarfaraz Khan, Ravi Bishnoi