Kings XI Punjab have enjoyed a great start to the ongoing IPL season. They narrowly lost to league leaders Delhi Capitals in their season opener before registering a massive win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Their bowling department has been among the wickets, and their Indian opening duo of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal look to be in sublime form as well. If there is one issue in this team, it is the lack of runs from Nicholas Pooran and Glenn Maxwell.
The player who is being left on the bench to accommodate these two players is Chris Gayle. Chris Gayle maybe 40 years old and retired from international cricket, but boy, does he know how to score runs in the T20 format.
The elder statesman from Jamaica is the leading run-scorer in the history of T20 cricket. He holds several records in the shortest format of the game, including the highest individual score, most career sixes, most sixes in an innings, etc.
He deserves a place in the XI, especially if Pooran and Maxwell are not performing. He was 39 when last season started, but he still produced some quality displays with the bat in hand.
How it will change the batting combo and who will he replace?
The team balance will definitely change if Gayle is in the team as the West Indian cricketer is a specialist T20 opener. On the other hand, Pooran and Maxwell bat anywhere from 1 down to 3 down. This will mean that Mayank Agarwal will have to bat 1 down to make space for the Universe Boss.
Another interesting question will which player to drop for Chris Gayle? While both Pooran and Maxwell have not been among the runs this season, Maxwell certainly has a higher X factor in him. Moreover, Pooran is a left-hander, so it is a like-for-like change to drop him to get the experience of Chris Gayle.
The possible KXIP line up after Gayle’s inclusion will be:
KL Rahul (C & WK)
Jimmy Neesham/Mujeeb ur Rehman
Murugan Ashwin/Ishan Porel
KL Rahul has opened with Chris Gayle for the past two seasons, and KXIP’s fortunes have been reliant on them more often than not. Mayank Agarwal is in great form, but he will have to bat 1 down to allow Gayle to do what he is best at, i.e being destructive against the new ball.
Glenn Maxwell will be used as a floater in this batting lineup. This means that he will be sent whenever 12 or 14 overs have been bowled. He hasn’t been in great touch during this IPL, but we all know how explosive he can be with the bat in hand.
While I don’t want to get into the bowling department of KXIP in this article, I feel Mujeeb ur Rehman is a must in this team. Neesham will have to miss out to bring in the Afghan youngster, and to counter that, an Indian pacer such as Ishan Porel will take Murugan Ashwin’s place.
I think this side will perform much better than the current KXIP team as Gayle can win games single-handedly. Could this be his last season in IPL? Well, probably, but he is sure to summon a “Gaylestorm” in the UAE.