April 15, 2014

Overseas stars spruce up Punjab


Play 06:52
'Punjab can win title if Sehwag fires'

Possible first XI

1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Wriddhiman Saha/Manan Vohra (wk), 8 Rishi Dhawan, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Murali Kartik, 11 L Balaji
Full squad

2013 finish

Sixth place

Big Picture

Punjab have underachieved for several seasons and last year, their batting let them down. However, in the 2014 auction, the general opinion was that they were the smartest franchise in terms of money spent. They were not afraid to splurge on the Australians, picking Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey, who replaced the outgoing Adam Gilchrist as captain. The franchise ensured that there was a better balance between the batsmen and bowlers.

Virender Sehwag will be expected to play his natural game at the top. Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra will be the young Indian batsmen to watch and if they can shoulder the responsibility, the overseas players will benefit. Bailey should add stability to the middle order and bowling attacks will be fearful of Punjab's finishers in David Miller and Maxwell.

Despite their impressive showing in the auction, there are weaknesses in the squad. Wriddhiman Saha is the only specialist wicketkeeper-batsman and Murali Kartik the only international-class spinner. Mohali's pitch has traditionally favoured the seamers, but when the team moves to more spin-friendly conditions in India and UAE, they could be exposed. It propels Johnson as the leader of the bowling attack and for support, he has the experienced L Balaji and the seam-bowling allrounder Rishi Dhawan, who's coming off a dream domestic season. Parwinder Awana has proven his wicket-taking abilities and Sandeep Sharma can swing the ball prodigiously.

Big players

Mitchell Johnson's merciless bowling spells in the Ashes returned Australia to their status as a world-beating Test side. At Rs 6.5 crore (around $1.1m), Johnson was Punjab's most expensive buy. Johnson had to sit out the World T20 due to a toe infection, but he has resumed training and said that the time away has made him hungrier. That is hardly encouraging news for batsmen, who can expect plenty of short stuff from him. His bowling helped Mumbai clinch the title last season. Now in the form of his life, Punjab will look to him as their trump card.

Virender Sehwag didn't get picked in the auction till the last minute and despite a lukewarm first-class season, he managed to fetch Rs 3.2 crore (approx 533,000). In the lead-up to the league, though, his form has been more encouraging. He scored 109 for MCC against Durham in a first-class match and in the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he had scores of 42, 67 and 49, all in match-winning causes. For a star batsman who has slipped under the radar, this edition could be the breakthrough he needs for an India comeback.

Bargain buy

Punjab paid Rs 2.2 crore (approx $366,000) to buy back the Australian batsman Shaun Marsh, who has served the franchise with distinction since 2008. Marsh has been their best overseas player, scoring 1903 runs in 50 matches with a strike rate of 133.26. Considering they had shelled out more to buy each of the other Australian players in the auction - Maxwell went for Rs 6 crore ($1 million) - Marsh is a bargain.


All Punjab players are available for the full tournament except for Thisara Perera, who could be called up by Sri Lanka for their tour of England, with the limited-overs matches against Ireland starting May 6.


"No doubt, he will have a big impact. Having him around the group is a great thing. It will be great for him to go out and play with freedom."
George Bailey on Virender Sehwag


13/2 - fourth among eight teams
Odds provided by Bet365

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on April 18, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Punjab is winning IPL7. They are going to be a force to be reckon with. Star studded batting line up. Best bowler (Mitchell Johnson) on current form. Wily spinner (Murali Karthik). Rishi Dhawan being the best all rounder in India currently. On top of all this there's Viru this time around. Go Kings XI Punjab.

  • Android on April 18, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    csk will win today

  • sree on April 18, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Kings have the Dream batting line-up! They will be real hard to beat.

    Top 4 for the season: Kings, SRH, RR, KKR

  • sabarish on April 17, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    1. Vohra 2. Sehwag 3. Saha 4. Bailey 5.Maxwell 6. Rishi 7. Miller/Perera 8. Johnson 9. Balaji 10.Murali 11. Awana.......

  • RAVINDER on April 17, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    The only weak link Punjab has is making Baily the captain but may be no other player deserves the be captain as Sehwag doesn't want it anymore. Out of Marsh,Miller,Maxwell,Thisera and Baily,the captain himself looks weakest among these 5 T-20 specialist batsmen. As Mandeep is not in good form recently, I would prefer Vohra with Sehwag as openers followed by Baily,Maxwell,Miller,Gurkeerat(wk),Rishi Dhawan,MJ,Karthik,Balaji,Awana. Players like Pujara,Mandeep,Akshar,Thisera will have to sit out for first few matches unfortunately. This above team will have 3 specialist fast bowlers, 1 fast bowler all-rounder, 1 genuine L-arm spinner and 2 part time off-spinners. If track is dry then Rishi will be replaced with Akshar Patel or may be with Awana as Rishi can bat as well. Vohra has to play smart here to not to go for shots as others can play big around him.KXIP should have bought Parvez Rasool and that would have made our team complete. @D-coach: Your team is just one bowler short.

  • Jay on April 17, 2014, 18:44 GMT

    @D-Coach: Can't play with 5 oversea players, I think Marsh will not find the place. Definitely one of the strongest team to reach the final. Good Luck!

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    my fav 11...:) sehwag vohra bailey maxwell miller gurkeerat(wk) johnson rishi dhawan balaji karthik akshar patel

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    My playing 11 swhwag mandy vohra maxwell bailey miller dhawan johnson balaji awana kartik

  • Sathesh Krishnan on April 17, 2014, 1:32 GMT

    David Miller should repeat the heroics of last IPL and help Punjab win the title!! Go David Go!! After Ramslam let this be one more feather to your cap!!

  • J on April 16, 2014, 19:21 GMT

    looking at KKR's performance today every team should want 3 spinners in the UAE. 2 all rounder types and one full time spinner will be perfect which is what punjab have and should play an 11 like this. 1 sehwag, 2 vohra/pujara, 3 bailey, 4 miller, 5 maxwell, 6 saha/gurkeerat, 7 dhawan, 8 akshar, 9 johnson, 10 kartik, 11 awana/sandeep/balaji. they have 3 spinners and 3 seamers (including johnson) and have a very strong middle order, only problem is openers as sehwag, vohra, pujara and mandeep are all inconsistent but if they play well this team should make the play offs with chennai, kkr and sunrisers.

  • No featured comments at the moment.