Kings XI Punjab may be sitting on the third spot of the IPL standings, but things don’t look sunny for the team. In a match against the Rajasthan Royal, the team depended once again on KL Rahul. This is the second time in three days that he has entrusted the task of seeing the chase through for his team. However, his performance has dwindled in both the matches.
The previous match against the Royals in Indore saw him chasing a total of 152 with a remarkable strike rate of 155.56. He managed to score 32 runs in the last nine balls of the match, helping the team win. This time around, in the Royals’ home ground in Jaipur, things looked difference. Chasing a total of 158 runs, he scored 95 runs and remained not out in the innings. But what he managed to retain, the rest of the team threw away.
Chris Gayle didn’t bat well. He spent a puny time on the field, making only one run. Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin went out for a duck. Karun Nair, the other dependable man on the team went out for merely three runs. Except for Marcus Stoinis, who scored 11 runs, the rest of the team couldn’t even reach double digit scores. They could only make 143 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in the match, playing all 20 overs.
On Tuesday, the team was finally able to score in the final overs, thanks to Rahul’s impressive batting. In this game, another great batting performance came from Jose Butler from the Rajasthan team. He hit the third consecutive half-century in the matches, scoring 82 runs. Had it not been for him and the sheer lack of determination in the Kings’ batting lineup, the game could have been theirs again.
The coach of Punjab team, Brad Hodge, was asked if the approach towards the game anything has to do with their loss. To this, he replied, “it was difficult. Look, if he [Rahul] had pushed a bit harder and lost his wicket, then we might not have gotten close. It is a different thing in hindsight. If you maintain a level, and if you have to chase 12 an over in the last five, you can get that but it probably got a little bit out of hand. You cannot leave it all on KL. If we had contributions from the middle order, we might have been in a better position. But that didn’t happen.”
But it wasn’t just the middle order that failed the batsman. Everyone else in the game, looked in a hurry to wind things up quickly which ultimately made them lose the match. The overall team effort was equally bad while they bowled. The team had several misfields, some of them questionably easy. For now, they have maintained their third spot but they will meet Kolkata Knight Riders next, a team which could easily test their batting and fielding issues to an extreme. Ashwin and Hodge will have to prepare their team for a challenge that could likely make them choke in the playoffs.