'Having played till recently helped' - Bangar
Sanjay Bangar, the Kings XI Punjab coach, was an active player in Indian domestic cricket as recently as January 2013. He believed that experience has contributed to managing his side's local players.
"All other teams also have Indian coaches on their support staff," Bangar said. "My advantage was that I was playing till just over 15 months ago. I have seen how most of these players respond under match situations. Maybe having played till very recently helped a bit."
Sandeep Sharma is three shy of becoming the top wicket-taker of the season. Akshar Patel, the 20-year old Gujarat spinner, has maintained an economy of 6.48 - only Sunil Narine and Lasith Malinga have given less per over among the top ten wicket-takers. And Manan Vohra's strike rate has rivalled the best hitters in the league.
"The key is to not think too far ahead and try and do the things that we are good at, and also challenge our own limitations," Bangar said, when talking about his team's chances in the qualifier against Kolkata Knight Riders. "That has been the emphasis for our team. We have not really gone beyond that. That has helped us play consistent cricket over a longer period of time."
Bayliss asks for early burst from bowlers
Kolkata Knight Riders have enjoyed a near-flawless run into the playoffs since returning to India. A string of seven wins - their longest - has placed them even money favourites going into the qualifier. Four of those had been set up by their bowlers restricting the opposition to under 160.
However, most of the heavy lifting has been by their spinners. All of their quicks have been taken for more than seven per over and coach Trevor Bayliss wants that to be addressed.
"I thought that our bowling in the last match was a little bit off early on, so I would like to see that improve," he said. "I can't say too much about what we need to do because I think we have played some very good cricket. In the second and third last matches, I thought we were very good while batting, bowling and fielding. We are at the top of the game and we are confident going into Qualifier 1, which is a good thing."
Local seamers impress Dawes
Joe Dawes, India and Kings XI bowling coach, is pleased with the work his seamers have put in this season. Sandeep Sharma's abilities with the new ball were reserved for special praise, but Dawes said the 21-year old needs to develop his pace for when the pitch doesn't offer him help.
"He's shown really great signs and he swings the ball, which is a great characteristic to have," Dawes said. "Although he's still learning, he's quite a clever kid, in that he knows what he wants to do. He doesn't execute it all the time, but he does have a clear picture of what he wants to do, in his mind.
"He's not the fastest bowler running around and he'll need to develop his pace. But that will come as he grows in age and body. When it doesn't swing, he's got to learn to hit the wicket and just be consistent with his lines and lengths, which he knows and is working hard on."
Parvinder Awana is another bowler benefiting from Dawes' experience. "He is a hit-the-wicket bowler, we mainly talk about his lengths and hitting the area as hard as possible and not just putting it there. All he needs to learn is to keep coming strong all the time and not slip into that survival mode from bowling all the overs in domestic cricket."