IPL 2015: A season of disappointments for Kings XI Punjab
In what was possibly one of the biggest failures by a team from which much was expected, the Kings XI Punjab dashed the hopes of all their fans this IPL as they slumped to the bottom of the points table. After thumping the Chennai Super Kings in the playoffs last year and making it to the finals of IPL 2014, where they finished as runners-up, the boys from Punjab failed to secure more than a mere six points this time around.
This was a result that no one could’ve possibly predicted, as the George Bailey-led team was looking settled and were favorites in the eyes of many. What was the reason for this dramatic change in fortunes? Why did the men in red and grey, primed to win big, disappoint big-time?
Let’s take a look:
As would be the case with a team that won only three games in an entire season, the Kings XI have few positives to take away from this IPL.
David Miller has been an explosive, yet consistent, performer for KXIP with the bat. He continued his 2014 form into this year’s IPL, scoring 357 runs from 13 matches at a healthy strike rate of 134.21. Although somewhat late to the party, the southpaw from South Africa struck good form in the middle stages of the tournament and pummeled an unbeaten 89 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in KXIP’s penultimate game of the season. Miller’s batting has certainly been something the KXIP will look back at and be proud of.
Anureet Singh, retained by KXIP from the 2014 squad, bowled well and picked up crucial wickets for them. Although his 15 wickets from 14 matches came at an expensive economy of 9.00, his ability to pick up early wickets was useful for the Kings XI.
Sandeep Sharma also did his job with the ball in hand to his team’s satisfaction. His 13 wickets in 14 matches proved extremely handy, especially considering his good economy rate of 7.00. Axar Patel also came good for KXIP with 13 wickets in 14 games at an economy of 7.07.
Kings XI Punjab has, in recent times, been a side that has largely relied on a few marquee players to take them through nearly every game. Their dependence on Glenn Maxwell to come good with the bat, and on Mitchell Johnson to rattle the opposition batsmen early, seems to be the primary cause of their downfall. Quite possibly, the pressure on these players to carry the weight of the entire team on their shoulders has proved to be too much for them. As a result, neither player was able to deliver the goods.
Maxwell signed off with a measly 145 runs and 2 wickets in 11 matches. His bowling ended up being quite expensive at an economy of 9.70.
Johnson, on the other hand, took just 9 wickets in as many games, again leaking runs, at an economy of 9.37.
Kings XI were also let down by quite a few other players who were expected to lead from the front but ended up crumbling under the weight of these expectations. Murali Vijay, the team’s most expensive buy at Rs 3 crore, disappointed with his batting, scoring just 251 runs in 11 matches at a sluggish strike rate of 110.08. Virender Sehwag, fresh in his fans’ memory for his stunning century in the eliminator against CSK in 2014, seemed in trouble against every opposition, scoring just 99 runs in 8 matches, 47 of which came in a single innings.
The captain George Bailey himself failed to make an impact, scoring just 259 runs in 13 games. Gurkeerat Singh and Manan Vohra, the team’s youngsters who were expected to bolster the batting, also couldn’t do much, scoring their runs at averages of 7 and 11.71 respectively.
Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks showed some promise with 5 wickets in 4 games, but wasn’t given enough opportunities to prove his mettle. Shaun Marsh, the highest run-scorer for the Kings XI in their history, only got 4 games and was, quite surprisingly, benched for the remainder of the games. Rishi Dhawan, who had a great IPL 2014 with the ball, didn’t get to play too many games, and this came as an unpleasant surprise to many fans.
Apart from batting and bowling, the team’s fielding was mediocre at best, and several times, they leaked runs in the field and dropped catches that came back to haunt them. Bailey seemed unable to inspire any sort of enthusiasm in his boys, as his team kept facing loss after loss.
On the whole, the team seemed to have lost its spirit after losing the first few games on the trot and never really managed to come back from there.
What to expect in IPL 2016
The Kings XI team management, along with coach Sanjay Bangar, will certainly go back and put their heads together to come up with an action plan for next year’s auctions. Kings XI should look to reduce their dependency on their “marquee” players and bring more balance to the side. The side can also go for changes in its young faces.
They have, in the past, been great at identifying and picking young talent to play for their side. They should also look to be more aggressive with team changes and should give opportunities to potential talents, rather than going for out-of-form players purely based on past performances. Having a few more world-class players in their side certainly wouldn’t hurt either. KXIP might look to shift captaincy from Bailey’s hands, as he seems to be devoid of ideas at the moment.
The Kings XI Punjab aren’t known for their big spending in auctions, but next year, we can expect them to up the ante, and grab some world class talents. They would surely be on the lookout for a player to take up the role of captain. The Kings XI also need a top-class Indian batsman to anchor the innings and win matches for them consistently. Adding another overseas bowler to the squad would definitely prove beneficial to the Kings XI and lend a much-needed balance to the team.
All in all, expect some radical changes in the Punjab squad for 2016 and expect them to enter the tournament as a renewed outfit.