Aakash Chopra, former Indian opener-turned commentator, recently picked his all-time Kings XI Punjab XI on his official Youtube channel. While the former cricketer picked Mahela Jayawardene as the captain of all time KXIP XI, prominent names like Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Shami, and Irfan Pathan could not find a place in the set-up.
While picking the opening pair, Aakash Chopra went with an explosive combination of skipper KL Rahul, who has been the bedrock of the KXIP batting-unit ever since he joined the franchise in 2018 and ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, who despite all the inhibitions from his detractors has performed decently well for the Punjab franchise.
“I will start with Chris Gayle. When his name had come in the auction, no one was picking him. When KXIP picked him at the end, everyone else was laughing. There was some sarcasm in that applause. But he did well and the universe boss showed that he likes the Mohali pitch and that he can score runs there. In fact, he had an unbelievable first season along with KL Rahul. Perhaps the most explosive opening combination.” Aakash Chopra was quoted as saying by Sportskeeda.
”Now that we have kept Gayle, we have to pick KL Rahul. What an acquisition. I was surprised when RCB let him go. They could have retained him or used the RTM but they didn’t do anything,” he added.
”From there when we went to KXIP and he got to play where he should, he did amazingly well. He established himself and showed the bowlers their place. And this year he is the captain and hopefully he will change the fortunes. He will also have to don the gloves in this all-time XI.” he added.
At No.3, Chopra went in with the most successful batsman in the history of KXIP and the maiden recipient of the Orange Cap, Shaun Marsh.
”Everyone will keep Shaun Marsh in their team. His name is absolutely mandatory. He made a lot of runs in the first season, more than 500 if I remember correctly. One of the most successful overseas players in the history of the IPL.” he added.
While KL Rahul might be leading the side currently, Aakash Chopra picked former Sri Lankan captain and the current coach of the Mumbai Indians Mahela Jayawardene as the leader of the side. Chopra hailed Jayawardene as a clever T20 player and one of the finest captains in the history of the IPL.
”I will keep Mahela Jayawardene at No.4. Because he is a terrific batsman and is a very clever T20 player. People may not know but his performances for KXIP were good. And in my side I will make him the captain. Because if you take the history of international cricket or IPL, I would say he was one of the finest captains you will ever come across who knows the strengths of his players and knows how to get the best out of them.” Aakash Chopra said.
The fourth overseas player in Aakash Chopra’s team is also a batsman in the form of David Miller. Chopra also picked KXIP’s first-ever captain Yuvraj Singh as a part of the middle-order.
”David Miller did not have a great couple of years because of which they let him go but I will keep him in my side. So that completes my four overseas players,” he added.
No Mohammad Shami and Irfan Pathan in Aakash Chopra’s all-time KXIP XI-
Talking about the bowling-attack, Aakash Chopra went in with a spin-heavy attack, picking the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Piyush Chawla.
”I have gone with Piyush Chawla. He played at the beginning with KXIP and did very well. At No.8, I have Axar Patel. At No. 9, I am keeping Ravichandran Ashwin because as a batsman in T20 cricket he has not set the stage on fire. He has not played much for them but has done well as a bowler. So, I have three spinners – a leg-spinner, a left-arm spinner and an off-spinner.” he added.
He also opted for Praveen Kumar over Mohammed Shami, stating that the latter has been quite expensive while playing for KXIP. Sandeep Sharma was picked as the second seamer.
“Praveen Kumar is in my side. I was thinking about Mohammed Shami but the 2-3 years he has been with KXIP, he has been very expensive. Praveen’s numbers are fairly decent.” he added.
Aakash Chopra’s all-time KXIP XI:
Chris Gayle, KL Rahul [wk], Shaun Marsh, Mahela Jayawardene [C], David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Sandeep Sharma