IPL 2020 review: A tournament of two halves for inconsistent Kings XI Punjab
At the halfway stage, Kings XI Punjab were languishing at the bottom and looked almost certain to finish with the wooden spoon. A turnaround followed.
Punjab managed to win just one game out of their first 7 matches in the tournament and at the halfway stage, there was little doubt in anybody's mind that Punjab would finish at the bottom of the table.
The Gayle impact
It seemed as if a switch flicked for the KL Rahul-led franchise at the halfway mark. A big decision for them was the inclusion of Chris Gayle, who brought a fresh energy into the side. Gale was actually supposed to make his IPL 2020 debut a couple of matches earlier but was down with a stomach bug.
The fortunes of Punjab began to turn in a group match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Chasing 172, KL Rahul and Mayank Agrawal got the team off to a good start as always in the tournament, adding 78 runs.
However, the problem for them had been that after the dismissal of the openers, there was no one in the middle order who could stand up. Gayle provided them the solution as he struck a half-century, batting at No 3. With a six from Nicholas Pooran off the last ball of the match, Punjab registered their second victory in the tournament.
They then went on to win five successive games and were just one match away from qualifying to the playoffs. Needing one win from their last two matches, Punjab stuttered and lost against Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets and Chennai Super Kings by 9 wickets to miss out on qualification by a slim margin.
Too many changes
Starting from their opening fixture, Punjab made far too many changes to their playing XI. At one point, they designated three different wicket-keepers in three matches - KL Rahul, Prabhsimran Singh and Nicholas Pooran.
Sarfaraz Khan and Karun Nair were done away with shortly after the beginning of the league. Chris Jordan did not get a fair run either.
KXIP's positives - Openers, Shami, leggies
KL Rahul has now made more than 590 runs in three consecutive seasons of the IPL. The skipper, who is the front runner for winning the Orange Cap in this season, made 670 runs from 14 matches, with the best of 132.
Agrawal, who had made it a habit of getting explosive 30s but not going on to convert them in the past seasons, also came of age this year and complemented Rahul with 424 runs from 11 matches at an average of 38.54. More importantly, he struck at 156.45.
Mohammed Shami showed his white-ball skills with 20 wickets from 14 matches, with the best of 3/15. The two leg spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin were also impressive for Punjab as they not only kept the runs dry but also picked up wickets consistently.
KL Rahul(c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda/Mandeep Singh, Jimmy Neesham, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh
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