Kings XI Punjab
Kings have undoubtedly the most lethal opening pair in the IPL at the moment. KL Rahul and Chris Gayle managed the 2nd and 6th most runs in the IPL last year respectively. They’ve scored 1045 runs as an opening pair over the last two seasons, which is more than any other opening partnership over the same period. Unfortunately for Anil Kumble’s side, the duo have made up a whopping 48% of their runs they’ve lacked strength in depth in recent times which is why they finished up in 6th last year.
This year they’ve attempted to address that, with big hitter Glen Maxwell coming into the side. The Aussie put on a valiant stand with Alex Carey over in England this week, registering a whopping 108 to drag his country to victory and earn himself man of the match and player of the series.
That’s a great bit of momentum to be taking over to India, and will give Kings that middle order bolster they’ve been crying out for.
The Delhi Capitals have one of the most well balanced teams in the league, though they’ve been hit by the withdrawal of England duo Chris Woakes and Jason Roy. Ricky Ponting's strongest team this year could feature 11 Indian players without any overseas help, though Kagiso Rabada will likely start as an opening bowler with Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin bolstering the pace attack.
The Capitals will be looking to build on their 3rd placed finish last year and go one better in making at least the finals this season, though in order to do so they’ll need to drastically improve in the death overs.
Their run rate of 9.6 last year was way below the tournament average of 10.17, so unless they can begging to muster up something at the death, it’s hard to see any progression this season with them losing two of their best overseas players, and the Kings might be worth siding with Maxwell looking on fire.