Kings XI surprise with Vohra and Miller retention
Kings XI Punjab have provided the first major surprise of the new round of team-building by retaining little-known Punjab batsman Manan Vohra. The other player they held on to was South Africa batsman David Miller, who shot to fame in the IPL with a blistering century against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2013.
Vohra, a right-hand batsman, has been retained as an uncapped player, and was hired by the franchise last year as a player for the future. He played 12 matches last season, and had a modest record of 161 runs at 20.12 with a top score of 43.
"Obviously, it's a good feeling because I never thought I would be retained," Vohra told ESPNcricinfo in Baroda, where he is playing Punjab's Ranji Trophy quarter-final tie against Jammu & Kashmir. "I did little bit for the team, but now I am excited because I will be playing for the home team."
Vohra's domestic form this season has been rich as he hit a big century against Jharkhand in Punjab's final Ranji league game in late December. "I was the highest scorer for Under-25, and got 187 against Jharkhand and they noticed it," he said. "I just got the news, so excited."
Miller, who was originally picked by Punjab as a replacement player in 2011, was retained for $100,000 in 2012 by the franchise. Although he failed that season, last year Miller finished as Punjab's leading scorer with 418 runs at a strike-rate of 164.56, including that whirlwind century against Royal Challengers.
Miller tweeted: "Really looking forward to this year's #IPL. So chuffed to be retained from @lionsdenkxip. #punjabi"
"We are rebuilding the team entirely but both Miller and Vohra were retained since we felt they had done well with us earlier," a Kings XI official said.
According to him, the franchise did not spend much time thinking about retaining any other player. "Miller is a very crucial batsman for us," the official said. "Apart from Bad Hodge and Kieron Pollard, there are not many like Miller who can turn matches in the lower middle order."
The official also said that Vohra was in the mould of Sanju Samson, the Kerala batsman, who has been retained by Rajasthan Royals. "This season he has been consistent scoring a few hundreds in Under-25 and has got a big century in the Ranji Trophy," the official said. "The previous team management had a lot of time for Vohra and he is a player we can develop."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo; Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo