Why have KXIP been successful in the IPL 2018 so far
Decoding KXIP's phenomenal start to this year's IPL where they have won 5 out of the 6 games played putting them at the top of the standings
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have hardly had too much cheer about since the IPL started way back in the year 2008. Only once were they on top of their game, in the 2014 season but even there, Piyush Chawla’s brilliance in the finals took the trophy away from the KXIP side.
So in this year’s players auction like some of the other franchises they went with a clean slate. They just retained Axar Patel and were looking to build a fresh, new looking side which hopefully would turnaround their fortunes.
And haven’t they been good so far this year IPL? Along with the returning Chennai Super Kings (CSK), KXIP have been convincing in their performances and with 5 wins out of 6 games and with them leading the points table.
Here’s looking what has made KXIP successful so far in IPL 2018:
A fresh captain, a fresh perspective
One area which has plagued KXIP in recent times was that they had players like Glenn Maxwell or a David Miller who were given the captaincy. Both players can win games on their own merit when they get going but that’s not happened too often when they played for KXIP.
So that led to the team’s morale getting affected and the performances of the team started to stagnate after a while. So coming into VIVO IPL 2018, not only did this team need a new captain but they needed someone who could bring in new ideas and a fresh perspective and approach to leading the side.
KXIP have found that in Ravichandran Ashwin. R Ashwin is someone who at the peak of his prowess as a spinner has gone and learned a new skill to add to his bowling- leg spin, which is a big risk he’s taken but he understands that to remain one step ahead of opposition batsmen it’s important to keep re-innovating yourself.
R Ashwin’s approach to captaincy has been a like a breath of fresh air. His astute knowledge of the game and the very fact that he being an established spinner brings in a new dimension, unlike many other captains who are batsmen.
R Ashwin in the six games so far hasn’t shied away from going against the norm by deciding to bat first on a couple of occasions when the trend has been irrespective of the conditions on offer to bowl first. Also, his backing of players, be it the ‘Universe Boss’ Christopher Henry Gayle or him having faith in the talented Mujib-Ur-Rehman speaks a lot about Ashwin’s captaincy.
Considering all these factors, it comes as no surprise that this team doesn’t resemble the KXIP of old. Everyone feels important, the classic case being their close win over DD where the batsman couldn’t score big but the bowling unit came together and pulled off an unlikely win.
It won’t be wrong to say that this team that KXIP has got will most certainly make it to the playoffs and they have a really have it in them to reach the finals too.
All bases seem to be covered
KXIP seem to have got all their bases covered. Their performance at the auctions is paying rich dividends so far for them. From the last minute purchase of Chris Gayle to buying the likes of the talented Mujib-Ur-Rehman, things look really good for this franchise.
Every team needs to have a strong and lethal opening combination so that they can maximize the power play overs. In Chris Gayle and KL Rahul, this franchise has got a combination which would send shivers down the spine of every opposition bowler.
Every one doubted Chris Gayle’s ability to dominate proceedings as he’s used to, but he has been phenomenal right from the start. He’s repaying the trust his franchise showed in him and is on a mission to destroy oppositions.
He has scored the first hundred of this year’s IPL and if he stays fit he’s sure to entertain everyone watching, as what’s an IPL without the ‘Universe Boss’? Apart from Chris Gayle, KXIP have other talismanic, attractive and dominating batsmen like KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh and David Miller as well.
Not every batsman has started firing as yet but when they do it’s going to make them stronger. In their captain R Ashwin along with the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel this team has got solid all-rounders, which is critical for every T20 team to have.
And finally, it’s refreshing to see the bowling line up of KXIP. As they have backed a talent in Mujib-Ur-Rehman along with getting back Mohit Sharma who has done well for KXIP in earlier seasons. Under Ashwin’s captaincy, this bowling unit is shaping up well. The likes of Mohit Sharma, Mujib, Barinder Sran have quietly gone about their business with good efficiency.
Ravichandran Ashwin hasn’t set this IPL yet with his spin bowling but it’s indeed praiseworthy that he’s gone and learned a new skill and has mastered it. All these bowlers are complementing KXIP’s best bowler Andrew Tye.
The Aussie speedster has delivered on his reputation as being a fabulous operator in the T20 format of the game. He has been prolific for Perth Scorchers in the BBL, which earned him a national call-up. His bag of tricks which includes variations of the slower ball including the now famous knuckle ball has made him the go-to bowler for R Ashwin especially in pressure situations.