Kings XI Punjab – Indian Premier League 5 – Team Assessment
Kings XI Punjab had their fair share of glory moments in season five but were always categorized among the chasing pack and they justified the tag with unpredictable performances throughout the campaign. However, they still were able to give a few high-profile teams a run for their money before faltering in the final match against Delhi Daredevils to finish 6th in the table.
Kings XI did little business in the final auction, owing to mounting debts. Apart from selling Dinesh Karthik to Mumbai Indians, they brought in an experienced T20 campaigner in Azhar Mahmood – the first Pakistani player to play in the IPL (holding British passport) since the inaugural year.
With their squad wafer-thin, Kings XI utilized their resources well. Their finds of the season have been two uncapped Indian domestic player – Mandeep Singh and Parwinder Awana. Both players finished as the leading players for the franchise in respective departments with the former racking up 432 runs at a healthy strike rate of 126.31, while the latter troubling the best in the business with his nippy action and claiming 17 wickets with a best of 4 for 34.
They were well aided by the two veterans of the team – David Hussey and Mahmood. Echoing the fact that age is no barrier, both men lead from the front. Hussey deputized in half of the games, after original captain Adam Gilchrist got injured, and moulded his role efficiently – sometimes playing the anchor man, while often coming in to finish things off. He ended the season with an impressive tally, scoring 396 runs at a healthy average of 33.
Mahmood’s presence was even more significant, owing to his all-round abilities. With his side starting their campaign slowly and him not playing, owing to visa issues, the player formed the back bone of his side, claiming key breakthroughs (14 in total) with well-disguised varieties, while further contributing with the bat – 186 runs.
Disappointment and Joy
After having beaten the likes of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, they had the chance to secure a place in the top four when they met table toppers Delhi Daredevils, minus Virender Sehwag, in the final game at their home ground of Dharamsala.
However, their mainstay batter, Mandeep Singh, Gilchrist and Hussey, all faltered badly and were left to rue another narrow miss. Their home hoodoo was clearly evident all season, where they managed just three win.
Their away form was exemplary, beating all top franchises, which allowed them to stay in contention all season. Also the form of Awana will be an encouraging sign, considering they aren’t among the high-spenders.
For a team like Punjab and a passionate owner such as Preity Zinta, it is surprising to see them languishing in the mid-table scrap. With Gilchrist expected to make a final call on his career, Kings XI will now need to invest heavy in some top players – a high-profile Indian would do.
Their Australian contingent, which also includes Shaun Marsh and Ryan Harris, has carried them well but in order to be recognized as the best, they would need to add substantially to the squad for next season.
A change is justified with the imminent departure of their skipper. "I would say I've played my last game of cricket just there,” Gilchrist said after the final league game. “To miss the playoffs was disappointing. But there were some positives, especially the performance of some of the domestic players. Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh, Parvinder Awana... They've all done well and the exciting thing is that there's still scope for them to learn, improve, develop and make that adjustment to the next level."
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