When IPL 2020 got underway, Kings XI Punjab was one of the title contenders. With a star-studded line-up — captain K. L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell and Mohammed Shami — the team had all the ingredients to end its title jinx.
The fact that the side was coached by Anil Kumble added to the expectations. But it turned out to be yet another disappointing season for Kings as it finished sixth, with a higher net run rate than Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, who also had 12 points each.
What went wrong?
Despite having some big names in its ranks, Kings XI failed to close out matches. The side lost way too many close games, finishing the tournament with just six wins.
The defeat which hurt Kings XI most was against Kolkata Knight Riders, a game it lost by two runs despite being in a strong position.
That eventually had an impact on its playoff hopes. Another disappointment was Maxwell’s form.
The side spent ₹10.75 crore for him in the auction, but the Australian failed to live up to expectations as he had an abysmal season — scoring just 108 runs in 13 matches, with an average of 15.42. He did not hit a single six this season.
Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi — who was part of India’s Under-19 World Cup team this year — was the biggest discovery of the season. Getting an opportunity to train under Kumble, the Jodhpur-based Bishnoi scalped 12 wickets and impressed with his never-say-die attitude. Along with the youngster, India pace ace Shami, too, had a memorable season — scalping 20 wickets, the most for the franchise.
In the batting department, captain Rahul had a phenomenal season — hammering 670 runs, which earned him the Orange Cap.
Even though his strike rate was a concern, the captain — along with Agarwal — gave the team solid starts. Agarwal missed three games due to injury, but amassed 424 runs — ensuring that the team benefited from his knocks.
Chris Gayle had to be admitted to the hospital due to a bout of food poisoning in the middle of the tournament, but one wonders why did the team management not pick him in the first few games.
In a format that’s tailor-made for him, the Universe Boss should have been in the final XI right from the start. When Gayle returned to the side, he batted at No. 3 — a position not too familiar for him — but he fitted in perfectly, scoring 288 runs in seven games.
The management has had a tendency to overhaul the entire team after every season. Now with another year of disappointment, it needs to be seen whether it decides to continue with a similar line-up next year!
The hero: Chris Gayle
Matches: 7; runs: 288; highest score: 99; average: 41.14; strike rate: 137.14; fifties: 3