The hallmark of a good team is that it can bounce back from a defeat and return well to stamp its authority on the proceedings. After Kings XI Punjab were comfortably bested by Kolkata Knight Riders a few days back at Cuttack many would have thought that the unstoppable juggernaut may have come to a halt but they proved everyone wrong with a stupendous batting display against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had lost their previous match against the Mumbai Indians. At the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad on May 14, 2014 they chased down a monumental total thus putting to rest any doubts about their quality for the time being.
Team composition: Punjab made a couple of changes from the team that lost against Kolkata. They benched Parvinder Awana and Mandeep Singh and brought in Manan Vohra and Shivam Sharma. Hyderabad went in with an unchanged side.
Batting: Kings XI won the toss and opted to put Sunrisers in. Sunrisers reached a massive total of 205 for 5 in their allotted overs thanks to Naman Ojha who blasted 79 from 36 balls. Shikhar Dhawan came back to a semblance of form with 45 from 37 balls and David Warner got 44 from just 23 balls. Together they ensured that they gave the bowlers a lot of runs to defend.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Kings XI in IPL 2014 has been the way it has regularly mowed down large totals or set up huge ones of its own and whenever Glenn Maxwell or David Miller has failed someone else has put his hand up. In this game too, they received a perfect start from Vohra (47 from 20 balls) and Wriddhiman Saha, who upon being promoted to bat at number 3 blasted 54 from 26 balls. Maxwell made his usual sizeable and telling contribution with 43 from 22 balls. Miller (24 not out from 24 balls) and George Bailey (35 not out from 19 balls) ensured that the team achieved what was rightfully its – a good victory.
Bowling: Rishi Dhawan was the highest wicket taker for KXIP with the ball, claiming 2 for 42 in his 4 overs but Shivam Sharma stood out with 1 for 31 in 4 overs. Mitchell Johnson was frugal, conceding only 26 runs in his spell. However, Sandeep Sharma, KXIP’s star performer so far with the ball, had an off day (1 for 65 in 4 overs) as did Akshar Patel (none for 40 in 4 overs).
For SRH, Amit Mishra performed the best with 1 for 32 in 4 overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1 for 38) and Karn Sharma (1 for 46) picked up wickets but were highly expensive as were Dale Steyn (none for 51) and Moises Henriques (none for 36 in 2 overs). Their combined failure meant that even a big total could not be defended in the end.
Where do the teams go from here?
Kings XI Punjab has been on a roll of sorts. However, they would do well to acknowledge that so far it has been their batting that has been getting them over the line and in games where their batsmen have come away unstuck their bowlers have proven to be ineffective. May be they need to bring in an extra bowler so that they have adequate cover when things are going wrong. They could try dropping Virender Sehwag for a game and play Anureet Singh or Shardul Thakur, who have performed well at the domestic level and deserve their chances in the IPL.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, it seems, are not intent on learning from their mistakes. In this game they played Irfan Pathan, yet he was given only one over to bowl. They have also been playing two spinners, who are pretty similar, in tandem but have not thought of viable alternatives such as Parvez Rasool. They should also think of giving Jason Holder and Chama Milind a couple of games now so that Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Dale Steyn can be rested and come back fresh for the next set of games. May be, they are not giving much consideration to form but such an approach, even though laudable in certain contexts, is fraught with danger in a tournament such as IPL where fortunes change each year with the strike of the small hammer in sprawling hotel rooms.