By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) “A lot could have (been different),” Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul said after his team’s campaign in the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to an end on Sunday evening.
Rahul is right. A lot of things could have been different for the Punjab-based franchise had they managed to hold onto their nerves and handled the pressure better in crunch situations.
After being almost down and out for a place in the playoffs, the team made a grand comeback and registered five wins on the trot, which included three convincing ones against top three teams — Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
However, just when things seemed to be going KXIP way, they went on to lose against lowly Rajasthan Royals and were left to address their moment of truth against CSK, who for the first-time ever, failed to make it to the playoffs. The end result: Kings XI faced a crushing nine wicket defeat to Chennai Super Kings and once again failed to have their hands on the elusive IPL trophy.
So, what went wrong for Kings XI in IPL 2020?
Looking back at their campaign, the biggest reason that led to their ouster was their inability to hold onto their nerves in crunch situations and succumbing to the pressure.
“We didn’t bat really well. It is as simple as that. Big pressure game and, unfortunately we couldn’t soak in the pressure and get a big total. It hurts a little bit. And it will hurt for a little while,” admitted Rahul after the CSK game.
And it wasn’t just in the game against CSK that they failed to come out with a complete batting performance. Despite having the leading run-scorer in the tournament — Rahul amassed a whopping 670 runs in the tournament — in their batting arsenal, they failed to hold onto their nerves in pressure situations and conceded games, rather than other teams defeating KXIP.
“It was disappointing. If you look back, there were times where we had a lot of games in our pockets, (but) we couldn’t get over the line and finish. Then we only have ourselves to blame. Starting with the first game, the short run, looking back at it, it’s come back to bite us very hard,” Rahul said while recalling their first fixture against Delhi Capitals where they went on to lose from a winning position.
Failure of Glenn Maxwell
Whether or not the team admits, Maxwell’s failure with the bat did hurt Kings XI badly. In 13 matches he played this season, he could only manage 108 runs which came at a strike rate of 101.88. Such was his struggle with the bat that he managed to hit just nine boundaries (all 4s and no 6s).
Absence of Chris Gayle in initial matches
Gayle, for whom coach Anil Kumble had envisaged a mentor’s role, featured for Kings XI in the second half of the tournament. In the first seven matches of IPL, they managed to win just two matches, meaning they were forced to play the catching game in the next half. Even though Mayank Agarwal and Rahul, along with Nicholas Pooran, did score plenty of runs, those runs couldn’t win matches for Kings XI.
Contrary to that, out of the seven matches that Gayle played, Kings XI managed to win five wins, which included one of the most historic cricket matches decided by a double Super Over against Mumbai Indians.
The ‘Universe Boss’ amassed 288 runs at the strike rate of 121, a little bit on the lower side by his standards. However, the impact of these runs was huge.
No support to Shami, Bishnoi
Another aspect which didn’t probably go in Kings XI favour was their bowling. While Mohammad Shami and Ravi Bishnoi were among the wickets, scalping 20 and 12 wickets respectively, others failed to provide them with the much-needed support which could have helped them build pressure from both ends and keep the opposition batters in check.
“It’s life – we all make mistakes, we’ve made a few mistakes this season as a team, we need to accept it, learn from it and come back,” Rahul said.
Probably that’s what Kings XI need to do in their hunt for their maiden IPL title next season.