Kings XI Punjab captain George Bailey has attributed much of the team's success in IPL 2014 to the coach Sanjay Bangar, in moulding a new team together and getting the best out of uncapped Indian players. Kings XI fell short of claiming their first IPL title when they lost a high-scoring final in the last over to Kolkata Knight Riders in Bangalore.
While many franchises had appointed overseas coaches, Kings XI hired Bangar, who had retired from first-class cricket as recently as 2013. Bailey described Bangar as a "huge influence" on the side.
"Everything you see and like about Kings XI starts with Sanjay Bangar. His knowledge of the game is wonderful," Bailey said. "His ability to draw younger players out of their shells has been phenomenal and he has been fantastic in managing the overseas players.
"He has had some great support from Joe Dawes (bowling coach) and R Sridhar, our fielding coach, but he has certainly been a high-quality coach, I have been really impressed. It has been a pleasure to work with him, absolutely."
This was Kings XI's first appearance in an IPL final, their previous best showing coming in 2008 when they reached the semis. Wriddhiman Saha and Manan Vohra scored 115 and 67 respectively to lift Kings XI to 199. Bailey said it was pleasing to see Saha perform above expectations in a pressure match, in which the overseas stars, including himself, failed. Saha has been on the fringes of the Indian team for a few years now and was picked for India's upcoming tours to Bangladesh and England.
"I don't think our guys can do anything but be very proud of their performances. Wriddhi's [Saha] innings summed up our tournament," Bailey said. "He has been unheralded and underrated in a lot of circles and for us he has been solid as a rock and done different jobs in different times. To see him perform well was fantastic.
"If you said that we were going to make 200 and [Virender] Sehwag, [David] Miller and [Glenn] Maxwell were not going to get any runs, I would have been very surprised. Really proud of the way Manan and Wriddhi batted. They took their time, exploded and got us to a really good total."
Bailey also praised the uncapped left-arm spinner Akshar Patel, who impressed with bowling figures of 4-0-21-0 in the final while the rest went for over ten an over. Akshar finished with 17 wickets with an economy rate of 6.13 and was picked for the Bangladesh ODIs.
"He is such an impressive package, right from the first day. The knowledge of his own game, the awareness of his own game for a 20 year old is phenomenal, the calmness and poise he has in big games," Bailey said. "He was bowling our key overs as our real go-to bowler. Wonderful fielder. I think he is going to have a long and very successful career."