Kings XI Punjab had a new support staff this year with Anil Kumble as their head coach, he would never have thought in his wildest dream that they would be losing games in a row which they should have won. They kept cool and went on their business quietly practicing harder and harder. There is a saying the harder you work the luckier you become and the fortunes changed for them in the second half. Their captain KL Rahul, and his opening partner Mayank Agarwal who play for the same team as Karnataka had wonderful starts most of the time and got centuries as well but could not cross the line in most of the matches.
The second half has brought a tremendous change in their fortunes and on a winning spree and have won the last five games in a row. It’s good to see their boss, big fella Chris Gayle back in the team and contributing to the team’s success. The best part of the King’s XI team is the emergence of the youngsters who have taken responsibility and ownership of the team. Arshdeep, Bhisnoi, and Mandeep Singh to name a few have grown from strength to strength and now contributing to the success of the team. Last game against KKR Mandeep Singh had lost his father on Saturday, but he came out and showed a lot of courage and determination to prove that he is worthy in the team and made a brilliant unbeaten 66 and with Chris Gayle, who made a brisk 51 off 28 balls to win the game for them and stay in the hunt for the top four stage.
The bowling looks well-oiled for King’s XI as they have Mohd. Shami Arshdeep, Chris Jordan as pacers and Bhishnoi, Murugan Ashwin Maxwell as their spinners. They have the variety and the experience with the youth taking up the attacking roles. Their fielding has been the hallmark this season with Agarwal, Pooran and Maxwell being live wire on the field.
KL Rahul is been leading from the front and in his tremendous form who is the highest run-scorer so far and deservedly wearing the orange cap. He got a brilliant hundred and then has five half-centuries to his credit so far, the best part is he is not been burdened by the captaincy, in fact, he is enjoying his captaincy, batting, and also his wicket keeping.
His consistent performance has earned his recall to the Indian team in the Test squad and also earned him the vice-captaincy in the shorter format of the game. I am sure the Australian series will be a real test of him in red-ball cricket and given an opportunity he will grab his position with both hands and cement his place in the Test side too.
Now two more games to go with 12 points on the board, I am sure they will win the next two as their confidence is high and the team is playing good cricket overall and hope they qualify for the top four.
In T20 format you never know till the last wicket is taken or the winning run is scored, hence we have to wait and see till the final rounds are completed.
The Writer is the former Indian cricketer, and now the head coach of the Zimbabwe national team