We're at that stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) wherein all 8 teams have played at least one game each. Some teams emerged victorious in their season openers while others couldn't cross the line, but the most heartbreaking result of the opening round of games would have to be Kings XI Punjab's (KXIP) defeat at hands of the Delhi Capitals.
A game that should have been won after Mayank Agarwal's herculean effort eventually ended up in DC's favor after the Super Over.
After this result, KXIP will be even hungrier for a win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. With the Bangalore franchise looking a well-balanced side, it's safe to say that the encounter is not going to be an easy one for KXIP.
These are the areas that the Kings XI Punjab should focus on to get a much-needed win tonight.
#1) Rethink the middle-order
KXIP's middle-order collapse against DC was dramatic, to say the least. With names such as Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran featuring in that squad, the quality of the middle-order certainly can't be doubted. However, KXIP may have to rethink the batting positions, and perhaps make a change or two in the middle order.
For starters, they could promote both Pooran and Maxwell up by one spot and rest Karun Nair, bringing in Mandeep Singh in the process.
The Punjab domestic team captain can provide the firepower that KXIP's middle order needs. A naturally attacking batsman, Singh can score some crucial runs in the death, as was visible in his performances for RCB.
Pooran and Maxwell, on the other hand, have done a lot of damage when they've been trusted to go higher up the order. Bowlers will be wary to play the duo when they are a good number of overs left in the game.
#2) Stick with Mayank Agarwal as an opener
One of the biggest moves that KXIP made on the night of their first game was resting Chris Gayle. When fans watched the Punjab franchise's openers walk out, they were shocked to find out that it was Agarwal who would be opening with KL Rahul.
While this would have been done to ensure Gayle's fitness and thereby his availability for the entire duration of the tournament, it did work out well for India's newest Test opener. There is no doubt the franchise themselves would be tempted to unleash the Universe Boss against his former team, but it would help KXIP to continue with the same opening combination.
Agarwal, who has a reputation for being an orthodox batsman more suited for Tests, went on to impress everyone in his blistering knock of 89 runs against DC. Having nearly won the game single-handedly, he let the bat do the talking as to why he was retained by KXIP.
With the ability to change his game according to match situations, Agarwal can be the ideal partner to his captain and Karnataka teammate KL Rahul, whose brand of batting is fearless.
#3) Bring in Mujeeb Ur Rahman
The Kings XI's mystery spinner didn't feature in the first game of the tournament, as Ravi Bishnoi was the chosen leg-spin option. However, given that the game is being played in the Dubai International Stadium with its long boundaries, Mujeeb should be given a go against RCB.
Mujeeb could complement Bishnoi, and if the implementation is done right, the two young spinners can wreak havoc against the RCB batsmen. The move would inevitably see Krishnappa Gowtham rested, as there would be only 2 pacers in the squad. This would also mean that Chris Jordan would have to be excluded.
Given that Jordan went for 56 runs off of his 4 overs against DC, this is a risk that KXIP can afford to take.
Given that we're still in the starting stages of the tournament, teams have the room to try out different combinations. These experiments can be done now so that the teams can identify their key players before the latter stages of the tournament.
Check the yesterday IPL match rsult here.Published 24 Sep 2020, 17:03 IST