Lions' middle order could have batted better - assistant coach
Gujarat Lions assistant coach Shitanshu Kotak has said his team's middle order should have seen the chase of 155 through against Kings XI Punjab on a good pitch after a rare top-order failure. Kotak said the Powerplay period, where they lost Brendon McCullum and captain Suresh Raina, eventually cost them the game.
McCullum and Dwayne Smith have got Lions off to blazing starts in their last three outings, putting on partnerships of 47, 112 and 93 in winning causes. Against Kings XI, however, they were separated early on when Mohit Sharma bowled McCullum.
"The way the openers have played so far has been brilliant, apart from today," Kotak said. "They take chances and it has been successful so far. Today was one off day where it didn't work. I wouldn't complain much about it. But with a score of around 150, the middle order could have played better and got it."
Despite Axar Patel's hat-trick, and eight of the 19 wickets on the day falling to spin, Kotak said the pitch didn't offer any assistance to spinners. Kings XI captain M Vijay had a largely similar view, but felt the ball stopped a bit while bowling from the pavilion end.
"I don't think the ball was spinning at all," Kotak said. "Maybe a bit slow, but I wouldn't complain about the wicket. If you look at the wicket, there were no marks and a bit of grass cover on the wicket. To chase 150 on this wicket, nine out of ten times we would have done that.
"I think the two bowled dismissals [Dwayne Bravo and Dinesh Karthik], and the third where the left-hander [Ravindra Jadeja] got caught behind… they all went straight. So I don't think it had anything to do with spin at all."
Lions have won four of their eight matches in the final over, with three of those coming off the last ball. Had they glossed over certain shortcomings - their relatively weaker middle-order, for instance - because of the victories? Kotak said the successive wins actually made it easier to address potential pitfalls.
"When we win, it makes it lot easier for the coaches to criticise," Kotak said. "When you lose, you don't want to criticise players because they won't like it. You always try and cover most of the areas, and when you are winning, it is a lot easier to look at those areas.
"Today's game was something completely different. Definitely we think about the things that went wrong in the last few matches. Even today, we were winning. For most of the match, the game was under our control. We do think about things that we haven't done well."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun