New Delhi, March 13: Kings XI Punjab mentor Virender Sehwag is confident that the current team under the leadership of Ravichandran Ashwin is the best squad the franchise has ever had in the last ten years of Indian Premier League.
In the run-up to the eleventh edition of the cash-rich league (IPL 2018), Sehwag has exuded confidence that this team has all the ingredients to be the title contenders and the Tamil Nadu spinner could lead them to their maiden IPL triumph this year.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of unveiling team's jersey for IPL 2018, Sehwag said, "The kind of team we have this year, we can win the championship. We have spent a lot of money on some of the players, so hopefully, they will do the job. This surely is the best KXIP team in the last 10 years."
Jersey launch with the Nawab @virendersehwag, thank you to all those who were there to support us and look forward to your continued support through the season. @lionsdenkxip pic.twitter.com/fbu99uSYxh— Ashwin Ravichandran (@ashwinravi99) March 13, 2018
The team was short on quality Indian players earlier but this time it is loaded with them. Ravichandran Ashwin will captain the squad comprising Axar Patel, Karun Nair, KL Rahul, Barinder Sran, Mohit Sharma and the in-form Agarwal.
"Last few years, our Indian players were not that good except Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel. That was one gap. If you want to win the IPL, you have to have good Indian players. We have four to five of them this time.
"We were also struggling with Indian batting line-up which could hold the innings together. Guys like Rahul, Nair and Manoj Tiwary can hold the middle order. Then we have explosive openers in Gayle and Finch, and down the order, we have David Miller. Hopefully, they will do well against spinners," said the franchise's former captain.
Their stock has nosedived in recent years but if Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh win a couple of games for them in the upcoming season, Sehwag would take it as a decent return on investment.
Gayle and Yuvraj were both bought at a base price of Rs 2 crore by the Preity Zinta co-owned franchise. The Jamaican dasher went unsold twice before being lapped by up KXIP while none of the other teams bid for Yuvraj, clearly indicating that they are no longer considered as match-winners.
Can’t wait to finally don this jersey for @lionsdenkxip. It will be a journey worth remembering in this season of Vivo IPL. #RedForever. Tweet to @lionsdenkxip with #RedForever to get your Kings XI customised jersey. pic.twitter.com/pMebt5f8VM— Karun Nair (@karun126) March 13, 2018
However, Sehwag is not complaining.
"It is great that they have come to us at their base price. It is surely a bargain. Who knows if there were more bidders, they could have gone as high as USD 1 million. They are big names and match winners, even if they win two-three games for us, we would get the return on investment," said the former India opener.
While Yuvraj is a certain starter in the XI, at least for the first few games, Gayle is not as Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch are expected to form a potent opening combination. For now, Gayle is only certain to play the first game as Finch will be unavailable due to his wedding back in Australia.
"Finch is not available for the first game so most likely Gayle will play in his place. So the opening game is not a problem but we have a big headache after that. We will all sit together and take the call. I believe Finch is such a player that he can play anywhere," said Sehwag.
The Ashwin-led spin department looks solid too but there is not much experience in the pace department. Australia's Andrew Tye leads the pace attack in the company of Sran, Sharma and UP's Ankit Rajpoot. Sehwag doesn't see inexperience as an issue.
Thank you for this jersey, @lionsdenkxip. It’s an absolute delight to play with you this season of Vivo IPl. #RedForever. Tweet to @lionsdenkxip with #RedForever to get your Kings XI customised jersey. pic.twitter.com/Wi9BA9wsoB— Andrew Tye (@aj191) March 13, 2018
"We don't have an experienced bowling line-up but we have very good one. I am sure Ashwin will bring the best out of them."
Having a bowler as captain is also a big positive, according to Sehwag.
"I have always felt a bowler-captain can win you more games. If 8, 10 or 15 runs are needed in the final over then only a bowler can you win that game.
"The way a bowler-captain thinks, he can also help other bowlers on the field. That is why I am a great fan of Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, who all made great captains," Sehwag added.
(With inputs from PTI)