Sehwag will rock IPL 2014: Preity Zinta. Reuters.
Having retained just two of their players from IPL 6, Kings XI Punjab and co-owner Preity Zinta had made it clear before the start of the IPL 7 auctions that the franchise was reworking strategies. They lost their star player Yuvraj Singh, who got the highest bid this season and will now be featuring for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"In auctions you do not win every time," Preity told TOI. "The only person we thought we missed was Yuvi. We would have liked to have him as he is from Mohali but we couldn't.
"Thank god after all these years we were able to save some money. Thanks to some sound planning, a few impulsive decisions and Sanjay."
Former India all-rounder Sanjay Bangar is not only Kings XI Punjab's newly appointed assistant coach but he has also influenced most of their decisions in the auction. Preity said it was Yuvraj who introduced Bangar to her, after Cricket Australia refused to send KXIP's former coach Darren Lehmann for IPL 7.
"We were really worried after we lost out on Darren. I was discussing this with Yuvi one day that we will have to compete this time without a good coach and he said 'why don't you go for a good Indian player'. He was the one who suggested Sanjay's name.
"I realised big players don't need a coach it's for the younger guys, it's like seasoned actors don't need a big director. A seasoned actor knows where to get inspiration from, how to handle complexities in a character.
"Sanjay was the one who guided us about the uncapped domestic players as we didn't know much about Rishi Dhawan or Akshar Patel. People have applauded us for that. We wanted players who had amazing skill sets and could also be incredible all-rounders.
"I felt bad to let Piyush Chawla go but he went for a good price, so I am happy for him. It's the IPL and Indians should get a chance so we wanted to buy some talented youngsters and with Sanjay's help we pulled it off well."
Preity seemed most excited about the purchase of Virender Sehwag for ₹3.2 crore. Though Sehwag has not made an international appearance since March 2013, she believes the explosive opener can deliver the goods on any given day.
"I am ecstatic and thrilled that we have Viru on our side. First of all he is a very simple player. I believe form is temporary and class is permanent and this guy has achieved all sorts of records. He has slammed a double and a triple ton, so on his day he can tear the opposition apart.
"My prediction is that Viru is going to rock this tournament. It's not to put him under pressure but A) I'm a great fan of his and B) He's more suited to us.
"We would give him that support, let him play his natural game, be happy and do whatever he wants."
Punjab has had some decent buys especially Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson (bought for ₹6.5 crore) who is in top form at the moment.
"God has been kind, that Mitchell was not retained by Mumbai and Viru by Delhi. We thank our stars that we got Mitchell. We always had an issue with our foreign pacers. First it was Brett (Lee) who got injured, then Jerome Taylor who never made it to the squad. Then we got Stuart Broad, he too was injured so finally we have Mitchell."
Finally, speaking of match-fixing scandals and other ongoing allegations surrounding the IPL, and what her team has done differently to stay away from it, Preity pointed out that the franchise has come up with a code of ethics and conduct that curbs players from getting involved in anything outside the boundaries of fair play.
"Firstly, we have gone for players who are known for their integrity throughout the world. Secondly, there's a code of ethics and conduct formulated by each franchisee besides the BCCI and thirdly, with the spotlight on fixing I don't think any player will have the guts to do anything like that. If somebody still indulges in fixing he should face a harsh punishment - banned for life - which means not only stopped from playing the game but also not work as commentators or anyone sharing their opinions on cricket."
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