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An open letter to Kings XI Punjab from a curious fan

Soon after a dream 2014 season where they missed the IPL title by a whisker, the Kings XI Punjab have slumped to their worst performance ever in the tournament this year. As such, fans are curious to know what has gone wrong.

ANALYST
Feature 17 May 2015, 05:06 IST
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Kings XI Punjab players enjoy themselves during a match in the 2014 IPL

Dear Kings XI Punjab,

“Fallen heroes” is probably the best way to describe your present condition. This has been one of the most dramatic turnarounds in IPL history after the Deccan Chargers’ 2009 title triumph post a poor inaugural season in 2008 where they finished rock bottom. The unfortunate bit is that this is the other way round.

Truth be told, the Kings XI Punjab we have seen this year is not even a pale shadow of 2014’s IPL runners-up. Despite the Kolkata Knight Riders winning the crown, your team won hearts and fans galore with your fearless brand of cricket.

The way you managed to raise the bar last year left everyone, from spectators to opponents, in a state of shock and awe. However, what it also did was increase the burden of expectations under which the team succumbed this year. The dismal performance has led to curiosity among fans as to what suddenly has gone wrong with Punjab.

Well, there are certainly a number of things that have not gone right for the team. For starters, the opening combination has not been right. Too much chopping and changing involving the likes of Sehwag, Vijay, Vohra and Saha has led to failures at the top of the order. This has contributed to lesser runs during the field restrictions and resultant pressure on the middle order.

In contrast, the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra provided some explosive starts in the 2014 edition which allowed the middle order to play freely. So, why change it just to accommodate new buy Murali Vijay as an opener?

Heroes of the previous IPL, Glen Maxwell and David Miller, have also not fired for you and this, in my opinion, has been the biggest drawback. These two fine young batsmen had taken the cricketing world by storm with their exemplary hitting last year. Sadly, they have both failed to make an impact this time around and that has directly affected the team’s performance in a negative manner. However, one thing to note is that you must not always depend on one or two batsmen to do the job; the others too need to put up their hand and be counted.

A special mention for Wriddhiman Saha who was the star of last year’s final hitting a magnificent century. Poor Saha has been struggling to understand his position in the batting order this season. The team management seems to unable to make up their mind as to which number suits him best. As a result of this, one of India’s finest wicketkeeper batsman’s talent is getting wasted.

One issue that has been a growing concern for the team and we fans alike is the spin bowling department. How long will you depend on one Axar Patel to deliver the goods every time? All sides in the IPL have invested in at least two good spinners except the Kings. There are even teams that play four spinners in one match. Knowing the importance of spin on slow Indian pitches, why didn’t you spend on at least one or two quality spinners at the auction this time? Had there been at least one more spinner in the playing XI to support Axar, things could have been very different!

The lone bright spot for you this season has been the opening bowling combo of Anureet Singh and Sandeep Sharma. They have impressed one and all with their control over swing and numerous variations. Unfortunately for them, the bowlers who follow are not able capitalize on the pressure these two create. Also, shocking is the way one of the most feared bowlers today, Mitchell Johnson, has badly underperformed. It seems he has still not been able to figure out the Indian conditions and has bowled erratically to say the least.

No matter how badly this season may have gone for you, always remember ‘there is always light at the end of the tunnel’. Take this as a starting point to build a team which is strong at the core and can deliver consistently (take a leaf out of Chennai and Kolkata’s book). We fans are always behind you and will support you wholeheartedly in the next season and many years after that as well. Just keep us proud of the fact that we are your fans.

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