KL Rahul’s magnificent hundred, Mayank Agarwal’s unassailable brilliance, young Bishnoi’s spinning capabilities or even Nicholas Pooran’s inhuman fielding effort. Pick out a few of the most memorable moments from this season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Kings XI would feature the most. But these moments do not depict the real story. The team has only managed a solitary win in their 5 matches and lie at the bottom of the points table. Despite possessing a few of IPL’s best players, the team has failed to overcome their demons of finishing the innings well. Not only have the losses affected their confidence but has also raised questions over their approach leading to the game.
Kings XI Punjab are yet to settle into their most ideal squad balance. Over the first 6 games, they have had as many as 13 changes fielding 19 different players, the most by any team till now. In the last 3 games, Punjab have also gone with three different wicketkeepers, explaining the confusion further. Moreover, the uncertainty with the middle order and the shuffles in the bowling lineup have hurt them badly. Kings XI have lost from all sorts of winning positions be it with the defense or in pursuit of a target. The team has often let the opposition gain control and have failed to maintain pressure. The encounters against Delhi and Rajasthan are exemplary to how Punjab have been unable to finish games.
Interestingly, both Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul find themselves amidst the ‘Orange cap’ contention while Mohammad Shami continues to be one of the leading wicket-takers this season. Only Nicholas Pooran and Ravi Bishnoi are the other noteworthy performers with the bat and ball for the franchise respectively. Everyone else, including the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair and others have had miserable outings. The consistency with the bat, ball or even with the gameplan is yet to take field. Captain KL Rahul as well has seemed ambiguous with his captaincy. The innovation, smart field changes and thoughtful strategies that were evident last year still seem hidden in his closet.
Having said, KL Rahul himself and the Kumble-led KXIP team management have been optimistic about initiating a change from the forthcoming match against KKR today. The team has already shown the world glimpses of what they are capable of and the team feels confident of turning it around soon. Whether they really manage to pull it off or not? Only time has answers….