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Sehwag backs fresh Indian bench strength to fire for KXIP
From the Web Desk, 14/03/2018, New Delhi

Virender Sehwag, Kings XI Punjab's mentor, believes a strong bench of Indian players was what the team was missing in the last few seasons, as a result of which they were one of the weakest sides in Indian Premier League. However, having spent big on the Indian players at the auctions this year, he is confident that they have a side to win the competition this season.

"The kind of team we have this year, we can win the championship," Sehwag told PTI on Tuesday. "We have spent a lot of 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."

Apart from R Ashwin (Rs 7.6 Crore), KXIP also spent big on KL Rahul (Rs 11 Crore), Karun Nair (Rs 4.6 Crore), Ankit Rajpoot (Rs 4 Crore) and Barinder Sran (Rs 2.2 Crore).

"Last few years, our Indian players were not that good except Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel," he added. "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. We have explosive openers in Gayle and Finch, and down the order we have David Miller. Hopefully, they will do well against spinners."

Marcus Stoinis (INR 6.2 Crore) and Andrew Tye (INR 7.2 Crore) were a couple of the big foreign buys for KXIP in the recent player auction. However, Sehwag believes it the money spent on the veteran duo of Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle - both bought at the base price of INR 2 Crore - which is their biggest steal. Sehwag went on to explain what could be deemed as 'return on investment' for the team.

"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 $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," Sehwag said.

While Yuvraj is expected to be a certain starter, Chris Gayle's role in the team could be limited, with the presence of other openers such as Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul in the side to complement Aaron Finch. To add to it, they also have Karun Nair, who has been opening in T20s for Karnataka lately. Sehwag has admitted that to fiind the right combination for the opening spot could give the team management a bit of a headache.

"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," he explained.

Kings XI Punjab begin their IPL 2018 campaign away from home at the Feroz Shah Kotla against Delhi Daredevils on April 8.



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