When IPL 2020 got underway, Kings XI Punjab was considered one of the title contenders. With a star-studded line-up – captain KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Shami – the team had all the ingredients to end its title jinx. The fact that the side was coached by Anil Kumble, added to the expectations.
But it turned out to be yet another disappointing season for the Kings as it finished sixth, with a higher net run-rate than the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals – who also had 12 points.
What went wrong?
Despite having some of the big names in its ranks, Kings XI failed to close out matches – something which cost it dearly in the tournament. The side lost way too many close games, which should have been won in an ideal situation. But then, with the side failing to show resilience in crunch times only made the job difficult – resulting in it finishing the league with just six games.
The defeat which hurt Kings XI most was against Kolkata Knight Riders, which it lost by two runs, despite being in a strong position. That eventually had an impact on its playoff hopes.
Another disappointment was Maxwell’s off-form. The side spent Rs 10.75 crore for Maxwell in the auction, but the Australian failed to live up to the expectations as he had an abysmal season – scoring just 108 runs in 13 matches, with an average of 15.42. He did not hit a single six this season and struggled to get going – and that’s something that hurt his team.
Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi – who was part of India’s U-19 World Cup team this year – was the biggest discovery of the season. Getting an opportunity to train under Kumble, the Jodhpur-based Bishnoi scalped 12 wickets and impressed the cricket fraternity with his never-say-die attitude. Along with the youngster, India pace ace Shami, too, had a memorable season – scalping 20 wickets, the most for the franchise.
In the batting department too, captain Rahul had a phenomenal season – hammering 670 runs, which earned him the Orange Cap till the league stage. Even though his strike rate was a concern, the captain – along with Agarwal – gave the team solid starts. Agarwal missed three games due to injury, but amassed 424 runs – ensuring that the team benefitted from his knocks.
It’s true that Chris Gayle had to be admitted to the hospital due to a bout of food poisoning in the middle of the tournament, but one wonders, why did not the team management think of him in the first few games?
In a format that’s tailor-made for him, the Universe Boss should have been in the final eleven right from the start – and the decision to not field him early did hurt the team. However, when Gayle returned to the side, he batted at No.3 – a position not too familiar for him – but he fitted into it perfectly, scoring 288 runs in seven games.
The management has had the tendency of overhauling the entire team structure after every season. Now with another year of disappointment, it needs to be seen whether the management decides to continue with a similar line-up next year.