4 weeks past the tournament, almost all the teams have established their contendership and reasons why they seem to be a hot favourite to clinch the title of the eighth edition of the Pepsi IPL. Amidst all the competition, there’s one team that has fell down the pecking order, that’s the Kings XI Punjab.
The most impressive side of last season, things don’t seem to repeat for the Chandigarh based franchise. 7 games gone in the competition of the team, they’ve won 2 and lost 5, meanwhile they had only one loss at the same phase last season. Here I review what must be going wrong for them :-
Two seasons, same team : Before the start of the tournament, Punjab kept faith in the same team which reached the finals of the previous edition, only buying an opener in Murali Vijay. This had made the opposite teams much aware of the strategies and evenly matched with Punjab’s. There hasn’t been any change in the lineup to say the least, the only thing that has changed is their fortunes this year. From topping the table last year, they now lie atop the opposite end this year.
Lacklusture opening stand : There hasn’t been any game where the Kings XI Punjab had given a good opening stand. It’s either of Sehwag or Vijay that have got out earlier whenever the team needed a solid start to the innings. Even after dropping Sehwag in favour of Manan Vohra, the story had been same. If they atleast get a good opening partnership, it would set up a good base for a good total.
Overdependence on misfiring foreign stars : In the previous edition, it was mainly the foreign punch added with the Indian twist that got the Kings XI successful. They had an Orange Cap holder in Glenn Maxwell in between the season along with the captaincy of George Bailey, the finishing of David Miller and the fiery pace of Mitchell Johnson. This year, they depend on the very same set of players who are now in opposite forms. Maxwell has scored 62 runs in 5 innings, compared with Miller’s 124 in 6. Both are in downturn of form leading to the team’s slumps. And the team’s overdependence on them is making the team more unsuccessful. No one has really stepped up in their misfortunes and the team is suffering bad.
Unsettled Coordination of both Batting and Bowling : One of the reasons that are responsible for hampering the team’s confidence. There hasn’t been any game this season where both the batting and bowling have clicked together in winning the game for the team. At a day where the bowling has shone, the batting has let the team down and vice versa. This situation got even worse when their bowling had led to the target of 193 against the Chennai Super Kings and they had ended up scoring only 95 in their 20 overs. The only spark this season to an extent has been their bowling, where local youngsters in Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh have stepped up, covering the shambles of Mitch Johnson, Axar Patel and Rishi Dhawan and deeming impressive.
Lack of depth : Like last season which was their only drawback, this year it’s biting them hard. The team hasn’t had much depth. Unfortunately when the main players are struggling for form, there isn’t any cover for them. The reasons could either be complacency or the overfaith that the staff keeps in their players. It has clearly been shown when in the first game against Rajasthan Royals, they had sent Axar Patel to bat at number four ahead of the likes of Glenn Maxwell and George Bailey. It all literally screwed up a target of 160 wasn’t being able to chase. Same situation against Sunrisers Hyderabad when Saha was sent at number 6 when he could have stabilized the innings if sent early, even 150 wasn’t being able to chase by them. Shameful indeed.
Limited opportunities for Manan Vohra : One of the stars for Kings XI last term, Manan Vohra was mainly on the bench for the start of this season. He was their top scorer last season in CLT20 but was dropped for the first half of 2015 in favour of Murali Vijay. He was later given an opportunity in place of veteran Virender Sehwag, but failed to impress. Once given opportunity, the Punjab lad can smash all across the park and get the runs needed. He’s solid on the back foot and gets runs wherever he can. Let’s hope he ends up in the XI and improves the shackles of their batting.
These have been the focal points where the Punjab has lacked to match the dominant performances of last season. They have been a shadow of their previous selves this season and it’s hurting them bad. As the tournament is half done, they need to pull up their socks as soon as possible if they want to atleast qualify for the playoffs. They face Delhi Daredevils next on 1st of May at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Could that match be an upturn in their fortunes? Only time will tell.