A series of articles where fans from each team were asked a set of questions ahead of the start of the season. The team in focus here is Kings XI Punjab, and Inder Veer Singh presents his point of view about his favourite team.
- KXIP are one of the three sides yet to win an IPL trophy, but have a very potent squad this season. How do you rate the current squad?
Well if you look at our Squad you see a plethora of Indian domestic talent which we lacked during the previous seasons of IPL, Indian players make your core and having players like KL Rahul, Mayank, Gowtham, Karun and others who are playing or have played for the country gives our team the much needed experience and boost also coming to our foreign acquisitions we all know how dangerous they all can be on a given day. So I hope they gel well and give their best when they step on the field during the IPL.
- Kings XI Punjab; What makes them your favorite team and how emotionally attached are you with the team?
12 years ago when IPL started I was bit confused when I saw Indian players playing for different teams but coming from a Punjabi household and living in Kolkata it was very obvious for me to support Kings Xl Punjab as I used to miss that connect with punjab and another reason was Yuvraj Singh, the poster boy of Indian cricket during 2007-08 and watching him tonk the greats was an absolute joy also he was about to lead my team; what else do you want? The lush green fast outfield of Mohali, the energetic crowd of Punjab and a good team with Yuvi paa as Captain but then the heartbreak in semi-finals didn’t affect me much as I was hoping for a good performance the next season but we performed poorly and got eliminated in the 2009 edition. I remember my exams going on and I was unable to watch the matches but I used to call my friend and ask about match results; another year another heartbreak.
In 2014 the strength of our squad gave me a glimmer of hope when I saw the first game vs CSK, my joy and happiness had no bounds watching my team defeat every other team and reach playoffs after 6 years. suddenly my team had become talk of the town the stadiums were going red and white. Then came the Day when we took on KKR in the finals, we had organised a get together at our place and all the KXIP fans were present waiting for that iconic moment but again destiny had some other plans. I got emotional shed few tears and since then I am waiting for that trophy also I’ve never missed a KKR vs KXIP game in Kolkata. My attachment with this team is never going to change, I will keep on supporting this team irrespective of the results
- KXIP are a side with 13 captains in 12 seasons, with yet another Captain set to lead the side this season. Moreovers, no single player has played for more than 6 years except Shaun Marsh. What do you make of this constant chopping and changing?
If you take a look at the IPL winning Captains you will find most of them are Indian Captains and teams have always been built around them be it CSK(MSD), KKR(Gambhir) or MI(Rohit) which lead these teams to success but unfortunately our team never tried to or you can say were not so lucky to get someone to lead the franchise after the release of Yuvraj Singh and the constant chopping and changing was done to change the fate of franchise or desperate measures I can put it that way but nothing worked for us and our team never ever backed our players in the past and they went with a clean sheet in the auction trying to make a team where others teams used to fill in their gaps or get replacements as a result no KXIP player has stayed with the team for more than 6 years and also when you constantly chop and change rather than backing, the player starts playing for his place in the team irrespective of the result as a result this affects the team performance.
- The new captain, KL Rahul, what are your expectations from him?
The inclusion of KL Rahul and now the responsibility of leading the franchise is one of the best things that has happened to KXIP, He is the next big thing in Indian cricket also I can see him leading the national team in future and what standouts in KL Rahul is that he is very calm and composed, He understands the game very well and has lead his domestic side lot of times so I am very excited to see KL leading our team and I hope that he will lead us to our first title.
- KXIP have an envious bunch of overseas players. Which four of them should make it to the first choice playing XI?
It’s an happy headache to have to be honest when you have such firepower in your overseas slot, Whom do you leave? And whom do you pick? Be it bowling dept or batting it’s problem of plenty and our management will have a tough time picking the 4 foreign slots but as a fan my 4 overseas picks would be – Maxwell, Pooran, Mujeeb, Jordan
- Which team or teams do you think is the biggest threat to KXIP this season and why?
Look!! I am sure that my team would be looking at the opponent as an opportunity to play and win rather than having sweaty palms and considering them as a threat, I know that whenever my team will step out on the field their sole aim will be winning games rather than looking at names, yes we will have few bad days as well but that’s the part and parcel of the game someday you win and someday you lose
- The last two seasons saw KXIP miss out on a play-off spot despite dominating the first half. Your thoughts on the second half debacle?
In 2018 the main issue was we were a top heavy side, Finch used to bat at 4 for us now imagine a guy like Finch who wrecks havoc opening the innings is at 4 then coming to Yuvi Pa he failed in few games and he was benched which weakened our middle order. Captain was tinkering too much and our team combination was still not set also adding to our woes we failed to capitalise on the winning momentum and lost few close games which suddenly pushed the team into panic, the environment in the dressing room changed which pushed our season down the cliff and we ended in the group Stage in short mismanagement and too much of tinkering
Now coming to 2019 again a new Coaching setup with few new players but same old issues fragile middle order and dearth of death bowlers in the team costed us moreover the Mankad incident left everyone fuming which also affected us and now coming to the captaincy again lot of changes and on field decisions like throwing Varun Chakravarty in front of Narine-Lynn and asking him to bowl in the powerplay was the dumbest move ever also the players were not in a good frame of mind which was evident in that game against KKR where we were 3-4 wickets down and still lost the game by 20-25 runs and one of our players was not out on 50-55 odd faced 45 balls this tells you the frame of mind our lions and as a player you cannot perform to your full potential if your head is full of fear, doubts, negative thoughts and insecurities looming around, as a result we again went downhill after a good start…
This time around we have addressed all the issues regarding our squad and covered all the bases which were our weaknesses in the last two seasons and I hope that the support staff will take care regarding the team bonding and will create a good dressing room atmosphere keeping the players calm and composed which is vital in such long tournaments
- How do you rate the spin attack for this season? Will they be over-reliant on Mujeeb?
KXIP has got an amazing spin bowling unit along with variety to choose from, be it left arm spinners, Off spinners or leg spinners we have everything covered and with Anil Kumble at helm I expect the spinners to do an amazing job, lot of analysts feel that our spin dept is weak but I feel that our spin dept is better compared to most other teams in this year’s IPL and I don’t feel that we would be over – reliant on Mujeeb as other spinners are also there to perform and win us games but yes Mujeeb’s inclusion in the Xl will play an important role as he is on song these days and bamboozling the best in the business
- Name some of your favorite KXIP moments over the years.
My favourite KXIP moment is defeating CSK in Mumbai and reaching the finals of IPL 2014, there are few other moments as well one being the Partnership between Gilchrist and Marsh against RCB and the other one would be David Miller’s Knock against PWI
- Who has been the most valuable player for KXIP so far and who do you think will be their MVP this season?
The most valuable player for us has been our “CUB” aka David Miller. He has always been a team man for us from pulling us through tough situation to scoring crucial runs for us and also leading our pep talks and team huddles before matches, he has done everything a team could ask for though we are sad he is not with us specially when we again play in UAE but still we wish him all the best for the tournament and hope he comes back to us soon. In 2020 I believe that each one who takes field for us this time will be valuable specially when we have such amazing squad and an Individual may win you a game but for winning the IPL you need everyone to contribute and be on the same page, Someone has to step up and take the responsibility on a given day as it is a team game and team work is required to win titles also you don’t expect one guy to perform everytime and take your team through
- What are your expectations from the side for the upcoming season? Can they lift their maiden title?
Honestly speaking I want them to win the title and break the Jinx this time, It has been a long wait since the last 12 years and with the type of support staff and squad we have, We should win the IPL title this time around also the UAE factor should work in our favour as it did in 2014. So nothing less than the trophy this time for me