Kings XI Punjab’s rotten run in the 13th edition of the IPL continued as after having KKR by the scruff of their neck at one stage, the KL Rahul-led side endured an embarrassing choke to slump to a two-run defeat. Requiring 22 off the last 3 overs, Pooran’s wicket turned the game in KKR’s favour.
KXIP are crippling themselves by picking Mujeeb
We all know what Mujeeb Ur Rahman is capable of, and we do know that he came into this IPL on the back of an outstanding, record-breaking CPL season. But do Punjab ‘really’ need him? For, as of the moment, one does get the feel that KXIP have picked Mujeeb only because they’ve been press-ganged into doing so, and not because they need him. Consider this conundrum: KXIP’s strength lies in taking wickets with the new ball, but throwing the ball to Mujeeb - a new-ball spinner who prefers bowling economically - would deny their pacers the opportunity to run through batting line-ups up top; however, at the same time, as we witnessed in IPL 2019 and today, Mujeeb is largely ineffective when he’s bowling in the middle. Thanks to his non-versatility, and the build of the side, Punjab face a lose-lose situation the moment they pick Mujeeb. With Bishnoi, M Ashwin and Gowtham already at their disposal, Punjab are only wasting an overseas slot by picking Mujeeb, especially given that his selection neutralizes the team’s biggest strength - new-ball pace bowling. Mujeeb is no Rashid, and so unless and until he learns how to bowl in the middle-overs, the leggie will be a burden to the Punjab side, and not an asset.
Shubman Gill needs to start throwing the kitchen sink earlier than he did today
Shubman Gill might not be as naive as KL Rahul and throw statements like “strike-rate is overrated”, but the pace at which he bats, nevertheless, is something that has come under scrutiny, particularly this season. His unbeaten 62-ball 70 versus SRH was quite the chasing masterclass, given the target was just 143, but after his knock today, you wonder if Baz and D.Hussy will have a word or two with the youngster regarding the rate at which he bats. Mind you, his 57 (47) today, which came in pretty tough conditions, was as solid a knock as you will see, but whether one batsman scoring at a SR of 120 after batting 50 balls will be healthy for the side is something for the KKR management to ponder over. Gill’s extended stay in the middle meant that Dre Russ walked in only in the 18th over, and in a side with god-gifted batting depth and hitting ability like KKR, one wonders if the ‘anchor’ can start throwing the kitchen sink early. At one point today, Gill was 37 (36) in the 14th over; KKR might have gotten away with it today due to the DK blitz, but it’s hard to imagine knocks like these not hurting the side more often than not, particularly in the case of it stopping the big-hitters from walking out.
Ishan Porel might have to wait for his turn longer than everyone desires
KXIP picking up Ishan Porel for his base price of 20 lakh was considered a steal, but fans have been left livid with his continued non-selection, particularly with Punjab struggling in the pace department. But if today’s performance from Arshdeep Singh is anything to go by then well, one, Kings XI might have got their selection spot on and two, Porel might have to wait for 4-5 more games to get a look-in. For the young left-armer, today, dished out a flawless performance against the most intimidating batting line-up in the entire competition. Arshdeep had a great game versus SRH, too, but while it is one thing to have ‘one good game’, it is completely another to back it up with yet another sound performance. Here, first, the youngster took the new ball and tamed the KKR openers - he bowled a maiden - after which through his yorkers and variations, he kept a fired-up DK and Andre Russell chained. What stood out about Arshdeep was his composure, consistency and maturity - he never seemed intimidated, nor did he even once stray off his plans. Success stories like his prove that in a world where the Nagarkotis and Mavis hog the limelight, there is also space for the Arshdeeps, who thrive purely on skill. Kings XI have unearthed a gem.
Kolkata pacers need to step it up in the powerplay
Minus the Rajasthan game when the entirety of the RR top-order had a joint brain-fade, Kolkata Knight Riders pacers have combinedly taken two wickets in the powerplay in a total of 30 overs and that is a major concern for the side. In fact, Shivam Mavi is the only KKR pacer to have struck inside the powerplay in IPL 2020 (minus the RR game). Whilst, of course, they might get away by just being economical in the powerplay in certain games - like they did in the SRH game, for instance - pacers not striking up front with the ball will hurt the side in the long run and there’s no two ways about it. KKR ‘almost’ lost the CSK encounter in the powerplay, but an exceptional performance from their spinners, coupled with conditions slowing up towards the back end, helped them steal the game; this won’t happen every other day, though. Particularly with Narine no more being the wicket-taker he once was, it is imperative for the KKR pacers to give the side a head-start by picking an early wicket or two. That they have a strong Indian pace contingent is laudable, but it is high time they start delivering the expected output.