IPL 2016 May 23, 2016

Misfiring overseas stars underline Kings XI debacle

The failure of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the middle order underpinned yet another last-place finish for Kings XI Punjab

M Vijay's batting form was one of the few positives for Kings XI Punjab this season © BCCI

Where they finished

Eighth, with four wins and ten defeats.

How they got there

Two years is a long time in sport. Ask Kings XI Punjab, who had an underwhelming season for a second time running despite retaining a core that played a key role in their march to the final in 2014. Like 2015, they finished this season, too, at the bottom of the table. The team made more news off the field than on it, and a mid-season captaincy switch from David Miller to M Vijay was the first sign of a creaking unit under pressure to deliver. When results marginally improved, the team was forced to deal with off-field issues.

Reports of heated verbal exchanges between a co-owner and the head coach were swirling around, in addition to bizarre selection strategies and criticism from one of their own players, Shardul Thakur, who vented his frustration after his release midway through the season. Shaun Marsh was ruled out due to a back injury, even as players strongly denied rumours of an alleged bust-up in the squad. The churn may have not directly affected their performance, but may have all added up to Kings XI's season of woes.

Highlights

Mohit Sharma, Kings XI's most expensive Indian buy, at INR 6.5 crore, and Sandeep Sharma were arguably their biggest delights in a forgettable campaign. Sandeep used the width of both the creases to make his yorkers less predictable. Mohit added a yorker and an offcutter to his one big trick, the back-of-the-hand legcutter. The two played a leading role in three of the side's four wins this season. The pair played in all 14 games, and Sandeep ended as Kings XI's best bowler with 15 wickets, while Mohit picked up 13.

Disappointment

That the combined tally of Miller and Glenn Maxwell - 340 runs in 24 innings - was 113 short of their highest run-getter Vijay, puts their twin failures into perspective. By the time Hashim Amla was summoned as a replacement for Marsh, Kings XI's season was already headed downhill as they had won just two of their first seven games. As the season progressed, bowling - their stronger suit - came crashing down too, with the side conceding 211 in a 15-over game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Axar Patel's inability to defend 22 off the last over against Rising Pune Supergiants was an apt summation of how rapidly the curtains came down on them.

Key stats

  • Kings XI's bowlers picked 10 wickets in the Powerplays, the least by a team this season. Kolkata Knight Riders topped the charts after the league phase, with 25 wickets in the same period.
  • As well as Sandeep and Mohit bowled, Kings XI finished with the second-lowest dot-ball percentage for bowling teams after Royal Challengers Bangalore
  • David Miller's average of 16.10 (161 runs) and strike-rate of 122.9 are his worst in any IPL season
  • Vijay's four 50-plus scores in eight innings are the most by a Kings XI captain in a single season.

Best win

Delhi Daredevils should have cantered to a win in Mohali. They needed 54 off the last six overs with eight wickets in hand. Daredevils' middle order comprised Karun Nair, Carlos Brathwaite, Sam Billings, Chris Morris and Rishabh Pant, all of whom are capable of striking big when needed. Instead, they were undone by an outstanding display of end-overs bowling by Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep and Mohit. Kings XI's defence of 181 was all the more remarkable because they had to deal with dew as well. Daredevils finished at 172 for 5.

Worst defeat

Their one-run loss to Royal Challengers in Mohali wasn't their worst defeat in terms of margins, but it left them deflated. Kings XI required 24 off the last two overs but Shane Watson varied his pace and lengths to concede seven in the penultimate over. Chris Jordan, playing his second IPL game, then offered hittable deliveries - full tosses and half-volleys, which Stoinis muscled for a six and four to bring the equation down to six off three deliveries. But the Australian allrounder could only muster a dot ball followed by two runs each off the next two balls to fall agonizingly short. That also meant Vijay's 57-ball 89, a fine exhibition of uninhibited hitting and calculated running between the wickets went in vain.

What they need most next season

While they may have unearthed Vijay, the captain, a stronger core of match-ready overseas professionals and solid Indian batsmen will help their cause. This year, the team was forced to persist with the misfiring Miller and Maxwell in the middle order because of the absence of a strong batting force. Wriddhiman Saha failed to convert starts and, at times, consumed too many deliveries; Farhaan Behardien seemed a misfit in the middle order, while Stoinis' batting lacked consistency. Lack of faith in their India internationals - Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan - resulted in the team getting their balance wrong.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Gyan Singh on May 28, 2016, 16:28 GMT

    The M&M show failed to show up. That in itself was a big let-down. To be honest, I think Maxwell didn't really show up since the UAE leg of the 2014 IPL. I also think Saha at #3/4 did a great job and played some really good innings. I wonder whose bright idea it was to decide his batting position using a random number generator between 5 and 9 at the beginning of the season. Also, the one who decided enough is enough and positioned him where he should have been from the very beginning should be commended. The bowling attack looks quite good actually, and have pulled off some nice strangling of the opposition, especially at the death (they have been a bit deficient in the early overs with the new ball, apart from a few good displays here and there by Sandeep Sharma). I think the material was there, but some really muddled planning cost them ultimately.

  • zpalob3413487 on May 26, 2016, 7:16 GMT

    When a team is mired in controversies, it's time for heads to roll. Unfortunately Sanjay Bangar has proved to be a mediocre coach as neither he is able to manage team selection nor create a comraderie among players. He is over awed by the presence of so many over seas star players and he unable to handle them. His inept handling of local young lad is even worse. T20 is a game for young blood and he has packed off Shardul Thakur and Arman Jafar midway. No Captain in the world will drop Mitchell Johnson from his team, only Sanjay Bangar is not aware that great bowlers deliver at crunch time. The Management of Kings XI Punjab should also realise that you don't win races by filling your stable with pedigree horses and keeping them locked. It's a wake up call for next season.

  • mohd. on May 25, 2016, 5:14 GMT

    Kings XI should retain following players...for next season 1. Hashim Amla 2. Murli Vijay 3. Sandeep sharma 4 Gurkeerat 5. Saha 6. Axar Patel 7. stoinis and rest is gamble and same time must bring some explosive hitter for middle and good quality bowlers...specially who can bowl well in slog overs.

  • Devinderpal Singh on May 23, 2016, 23:43 GMT

    The domestic players are this franchise's strength, which means pressure should be taken off them, via all-rounders. I'd make the following trades and buys, if possible: trade Maxwell to MI for Anderson, Johnson to RCB for Sarfaraz to bolster the domestic batting options, and buying all-rounders in Bopara, Pretorius, Samit Patel and Nabi, to shorten the tail, while providing many bowling options, as back-up. The line-up that I would start off with (if those players could be attained) would be: 1. S.Marsh, 2. M.Vohra/M.Vijay, 3. W.Saha/G.Singh (wk), 4. R.Bopara, 5. C.Anderson, 6. M.Nabi/S.Patel, 7. A.Patel, 8. R.Dhawan, 9. and 10. 2 of A.Singh/M.Sharma/K.Cariappa, 11. S.Sharma. With Stirling as a 2nd opener, Miller, Patel, Pretorius, Abbott and Sarfaraz, the bench options are strong and varied, with flexibility to alter the team, depending partly on form, while having many bowlers and having batting depth. Even a mere 3 overseas could be picked, with Gurkeerat going to 6. P3 of 3.

  • Devinderpal Singh on May 23, 2016, 23:16 GMT

    If you believe Murali Kartik (and I'd advise you don't), Maxwell's failures are due to the franchise "wrongly" moving him from 3. It's funny how blind some can be to the failures of their preferences.

    I was constantly talking about Gurkeerat and Rishi getting into the eleven throughout the season, but Bangar and Miller/Vijay were obsessed with the same, non-performing players for far too long, to their detriment, unless they wanted to fail.

    The domestic players did well. I don't think a single one did badly (maybe Nikhil but he barely played). Saha would have been excellent if he was at 3, from the start, but they did not put him there, and now, this article criticises Saha for not performing, despite being out of position. Gurkeerat and Rishi would be fantastic batsmen and extra bowling options, if they were afforded that chance. Bangar will forget their performances by next year though. I think Anureet and Mohit are equals, but Anureet doesn't get the credit he deserves. P2 of 3.

  • Debra on May 23, 2016, 23:11 GMT

    They didn't play, did they? :)

  • mukesh on May 23, 2016, 17:56 GMT

    When trying to become thrifty team all bases should be covered. KXIP missed many tricks by being parsimonious to extreme. Not having enough bench strength to replace out of for squad . Injuries are part and parcel of game but every thing needs replacement. Owners should have been mighty happy with performance of Marcus Stoinis . But not every cheap buy will turn out miracles. They were always sleeping in Auction if not for one or two buys.

    Team India players were (premium players) Vijay , Axar, Mohit ,Saha (recent players) Gurukreet, Rishi , Sandeep

    Coming to Coaching staff :-

    KXIP should either give away one of Gurukreet or Rishi who both are allrounders or make them complete 4 overs, who by themselves form core of team. Instead of building on these players KXIP Punjab went north south and rarely played Gurukreet and Rishi together. Blaming M&M for failure is tough. when both these players were outta form and finding tough to make there countries XI. Amla was a decent buy .

  • Indian on May 23, 2016, 17:07 GMT

    Kings XI are headed by a coach S.Bangar who comes from MS Dhoni school of thought i.e keep selecting the same bunch of players and irrational belief in some of them despite multiple failures .Kings XI hardly had any Indian batsman in reserve but they still decided to release Arman Jaffer who is a classy young player plus as article says they showed little faith in Gurkeerat Maan who was barely played in the first half and when picked was asked to bat at no.7 which is not suited to the way he plays ,Bangar's handling or mishandling of Manan Vohra .... all these disrupted the team harmony and some of the Indian players felt unwanted .Sanjay Bangar is too conservative and set in his ways .

  • cabaal9179489 on May 23, 2016, 15:45 GMT

    Superb article.. Perfect reflection of how things went for KXIP

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