Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) batting coach Wasim Jaffer said his team’s position in the IPL 2020 points table would’ve looked a lot different if not for the close defeats they’ve suffered. The closest being the previous match where they went down by 2 runs to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Abu Dhabi last Saturday (October 10).
Failing to finish off at least two other such games in the early part of the tournament, KXIP are currently eighth in the standings with just a solitary win to show for their efforts in seven outings.
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Speaking to the Times of India before the next fixture on Thursday (October 15) in Sharjah versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Jaffer hoped for the tide to turn quickly.
“I think some close games that we lost. The games we lost against Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders. Those close games can hurt you. I don’t think we have played that badly. We need a little luck. I am hoping the tide will change,” said the Mumbai legend and former India Test opener.
“We have to stay positive. We have no time left. We have to win at least 6 out of 7 matches. But I think if we get a couple of wins straight away, the tables can turn. Cricket is a funny game, anything can happen. We have talented players in our team. They can change the course of the game at any point of time,” he added.
But no matter how lenient one be, the feeling that KXIP are struggling for depth in the batting department, besides not being able to stitch together complete bowling performances, is unavoidable.
The only real positive has been the form of openers Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. Both the players, Agarwal with 337 runs at a strike-rate of 158.95 and Rahul with 387 runs at 134.84, stand at the top of the run-charts. And while Rahul’s strike-rate and overall approach has been criticised, the batsman hasn’t at any stage looked woefully out of touch.
“Both KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have been the major scorers for us,” said Jaffer. “Nicholas Pooran also has contributed with the bat. The other guys haven’t got much of the opportunities. Even if they have, they failed to cash in on it. But we need to understand, it’s T20s.”
“In T20s, the top three get most overs. Anyone who comes lower down the order, they get a handful of balls to play. Maxwell hasn’t (delivered) with the bat. Karun and Mandeep also. KL Rahul and Mayank have been batting superbly.”
“KL has been in fantastic form for Team India and Kings XI. It is very heartening to see the way Mayank has been playing. He is just amazing. He is really keen to show his potential. He is grabbing opportunities with both hands,” he added.
Jaffer also spoke on the potential return of explosive West Indies batsman Chris Gayle to the outfit for the face-off with RCB after recovering from illness.
“We are missing him. He was supposed to play the last two or three games but he, unfortunately, suffered the upset stomach. He was hospitalised. He is fit now. Hopefully, for the next game, I can see him playing straightaway.”
“Players like Gayle do make a difference. If he is in form, he can put a lot of fear among the bowlers and gives the team confidence. He can win a game on his own. He looks hungry when he bats,” he signed off.