But despite their poster-boy qualities, this team contains a great mix of players both foreign and Indian, but they just haven't got enough wins under their belt to be confident enough. The bowling attack can be entirely Indian, with Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla, Romesh Powar and VRV Singh in the ranks. Brett Lee and Yusuf Abdulla have done well enough to push hard for places. KXI usually play five bowlers, which leaves the batting pretty light if the big guns in the middle order - Yuvraj, Sangakarra, Jayawardene - don't fire. The opening has been an issue too, as they don't have a settled pair at the top. The first season saw the discovery of Shaun Marsh and they definitely felt his absence in IPL2, using swing/miss openers like Karan Goel and Sunny Sohal. Bopara, for a while, was pretty good and so was Katich. Shaun Marsh should play this time around, and if not, KXI have bought Adrian Barath, great buy there. Mohammed Kaif has been brought in to solidify the middle order, as has former India all-rounder Reetinder Sodhi who is back from the ICL.
The bowling still needs tweaking, as it tends to be very expensive. Pathan's pace drop is alarming, Sreesanth can be (very) wayward (ditto VRV), Chawla has a poor stock ball and uses the googly too much for it to be effective, and Powar, while crafty, can be too slow/predictable. Yusuf Abdulla was the highest wicket taker for quite some time last year, but was dropped as soon as Lee returned, wisely too.
Their squad this year -
Kumar Sangakkara (capt/wk), Brett Lee, Adrian Barath, Vikramjeet Malik, Bipul Sharma, Manvinder Bisla, Yusuf Abdullah, Karan Goel, Ravi Bopara, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Shalabh Srivastava, Mohammad Kaif, Love Ablish, Amanpreet Singh, James Hopes, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Yash Gandhi, Shaun Marsh, Mahela Jayawardene, Yuvraj Singh, Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla.
Yuvraj hasn't been the best captain, and so Sanga is in charge of this too. He could get the best out of this team, PZ will definitely hope so. Changes need to be made on what sort of formation they play, which is why my preferred line-up is (provided key players show up fit):
Kumar Sangakarra (c) (wk)
Reetinder Singh Sodhi
A lot of bowlers in that line-up, I realise, but expect Yusuf Abdulla to make way for Lee whenever the latter is fit again. James Hopes is another good choice in the meantime, as he offers another batting option while his bowling is more than handy. And why not Jerome Taylor?
My Official-sounding prediction for KXI this year: 5th Place. Going with gut instinct in that one, the bowling may still struggle in the absence of Lee, unless Sodhi and Ablish actually play and turn out to be surprise packages.
Next up, Chennai Super Kings. Until then, check out royalty.