The Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) entered this match woefully unlucky to have accumulated two close losses despite having excelled with the bat in both games.
Against the Mumbai Indians (MI), they had an opportunity to show that they could clinch the decisive moments and get to the top of the points table. Unfortunately, they fell short with both bat and ball, and fell to a 48-run defeat to the defending champions.
Both teams deployed five bowlers during the game - but only one did that out of necessity. Going in with a team combination that ensured only Glenn Maxwell's part-time spin could bail out a bowler having a bad day, KXIP did not even resort to that as they stuck to their five.
As it turned out, there were some poor tactical decisions made, and even though Sheldon Cottrell was pulverised at the death in the game last game, he would potentially have been a safer bet than Jimmy Neesham and Krishnappa Gowtham.
The KXIP bowlers were pulverised for no less than 104 runs in the final five overs by the likes of MI skipper Rohit Sharma and all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard. The late assault made up for a painfully slow innings by Ishan Kishan - the almost-hero from the previous game whose form seemed to have deserted him. Quinton de Kock too got away with another low score.
Chasing a daunting total on a large ground, KXIP appeared to have the tools for the chase, with the openers showing glimpses of their other-worldly form. Both, however, were dismissed, exposing for the first time KXIP's soft middle-order underbelly. It was hereon that KXIP, save for Nicholas Pooran's enterprising 44, crumbled.
Here are three players who failed to impress in the KXIP vs MI IPL 2020 game.
#3 Jimmy Neesham (KXIP)
Jimmy Neesham had a memorable contribution in the 2019 World Cup final, in which he struck a massive six after unexpectedly being sent in to bat in the Super Over.
Expected to bring in all-round balance to KXIP, Neesham looked unthreatening with ball in hand. At the death, at a pace not enough to unsettle MI's big hitters, Neesham sprayed the ball around, and was pulled and lofted for runs. With no sixth bowler of repute, KXIP were forced to give Neesham another over in which he proceeded to concede three boundaries despite bowling tighter lines.
With bat in hand, Neesham was sent in at number 6 to arrest a soaring asking rate with some big hits, or at least score enough to reduce the margin of loss. He could do neither as he looked out of sorts. Such was his lack of form that he got out off a full toss, top-edging a simple catch to point.
Neesham did have a fine moment as part of a relay catch on the boundary to dismiss the MI skipper, but his 4-0-52-0 and 7 off 7 did not help the team's cause.
#2 Glenn Maxwell (KXIP)
Glenn Maxwell, known better in the IPL as the Big Show after a barnstorming 2014 season with KXIP, was expected to finally come good in 2020 and deliver on his promise and potential.
After all, he had shown some form in the limited-overs games against England before the IPL. More experience and maturity was expected to allow Maxwell to justify his steep price tag.
In this game, however, Maxwell struggled his way to 11 runs off 18 balls, which was an innings littered with mishits to balls he would put away with ease when in form. He was unable to pick the slow turn of MI spinner Rahul Chahar as he was consistently beaten by the stock leg-break - an appalling sight for a player considered to be a good player of spin.
Maxwell lost his wicket to the same bowler while attempting to clear the ropes. He was also part of the aforementioned terrific relay catch, but the team expected Maxwell to bail them out. Unfortunately, he could not, and he pushed them deeper into the hole.
#1 KL Rahul (KXIP)
With time, KXIP's jackpot acquisition in the 2018 IPL auctions has had an increased importance within the setup.
KL Rahul, initially bought for his batting before he became the international star that he is now, currently undertakes the captaincy, wicketkeeping, and opening responsibilities. The increased burden seemed to help as he claimed the Orange Cap after the first few games.
In this match, he and fellow opener Mayank Agarwal needed to set a strong foundation for a KXIP middle order yet to show its worth. Initially, Rahul was contained by the MI pacers as he survived a few balls targeted at the stumps.
But playing an inexplicable attempt at a ramp off a ball that was going straight, Rahul missed completely to see the leg-bail taken off and the stumps light up, as he departed for an uncharacteristic 17 off 19.
The Karnataka batsman's woes as a captain only continued regarding the performance of his death bowlers and his tactical selections. The KXIP unit has to fire in unison to prevent a hurtling into the abyss like the past two editions, despite their ever-present promise.
Published 02 Oct 2020, 00:41 IST