Sorry. I do want to write nice things about Kings XI Punjab. I want to wax lyrical about century stands, massive sixes and wily bowling. When I was giving the task of writing something on every KXIP game for Firstpost, I was really excited. Instead I am here trying to describe an embarrassing loss in an interesting way. Again. I am running out of ideas and I have run out of patience. Kings XI Punjab are a really terrible cricket team and they are getting worse.
In their previous games, they had at least a decent PowerPlay to give them some hope. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, they didn’t even have that. They put together their worst first six overs of the tournament as they went at less than a run a ball losing two wickets in the process. The only batsmen who had made more than 100 runs this season going into this game were the openers, and both Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra were dismissed inside the fielding restrictions.
David Miller failed. Again. That point has come, whether captain or not, his place in this team needs to be up for debate. He has scored 46 runs in five innings and looks completely at sea at the crease. On Saturday, he managed to get himself out to a bad ball. A short and wide one from Moises Henriques, that deserved to be smashed to the boundary, was meekly edged through to the keeper. Miller is finding ways to get himself out. He has played a third of the 2016 IPL now and has a high score of 15.
The fragility of Miller only emphasises the fluctuations in form of Glenn Maxwell. Here he hit his second ball straight into the hands of Mustafizur Rahman at fine leg. He is relied on so heavily by Kings XI that his failures are a body blow every time they happen. A completely expected punch in the nuts as he is caught in the deep.
I have said all of this before. I have talked you through the weaknesses of this team over and over again. They have an out of form captain, an inconsistent star batsman, no superstar spinner and no depth in seamers. Even Mohit Sharma, the CSK stalwart, isn’t enough to give them any sort of control.
They are just plain bad.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Rishi Dhawan made his first appearance of this season’s IPL and he did it with his initials shaved into his head. It was like he had decided playing for the worst team in the league wasn’t embarrassing enough and he wanted to make it even more painful for himself.
The KXIP PowerPlay went for 35-2. The Sunrisers got to the end of the first six overs of their innings with the score 65-0. That is the joint highest PowerPlay score of this year’s tournament, matching the effort Kolkata Knight Riders made against, you guessed it, Kings XI Punjab.
A shuffling of pack in this game saw Wriddhiman Saha replaced by Nikhil Naik and Pradeep Sahu dropped for Rishi Dhawan and his terrible haircut. It didn’t make any difference as they were beaten so easily that David Warner looked a bit bored as he cruised to 59 from 31 balls. The only thing Kings XI are cruising to is another last place finish.
Having set just 144 to win after the top order failed, again, there was little the bowlers could do in the face of the form and power of David Warner, who became the leading runscorer in the tournament. When they were batting, they came up against the brilliance of Mustafizur Rahman, who was superb in his spell of four overs that went for just nine runs. Only Shaun Marsh succeeded in the top order and if it wasn’t for a 36 run cameo from Axar Patel, things could have been even worse.
It is difficult to describe what it is like watching this team to someone who hasn’t been through it, but let me try. When I was a 12-year-old Sea Cadet, I was given the job of being the cox of a rowing team. I was put in the role of steering the boat because I was the worst rower. Halfway through the race, one of the other 12-year-olds in the boat hit a crewmate in the back with his oar as he mistimed his stroke. The lad who had been hit turned around and punched the boy who sat behind him. A fight broke out inside a small rowing boat and I watched on in horror as the race finished and we were left stranded in the middle of the river. A motorboat had to come and rescue us and the crowd of parents and other kids were giggling away at this ragtag bunch of kids that had been towed to shore.
It is like that.
A loss by five wickets with 13 balls to spare was deserved for the men from Mohali, but the biggest concern is knowing what they will do next. The coach Sanjay Bangar doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. He could bring in Farhaan Behardian or Marcus Stoinis, but neither overseas player sets your pulse racing. He could replace Sandeep Sharma with Anureet Singh but that is basically a like for like replacement. He could select KC Cariappa but there are few guarantees that he will outperform Axar Patel. Everyone else has been tried and didn’t impress.
If Kings XI Punjab were a Sunday team, they would be calling their opponents on the morning of the fixture and saying they couldn’t get enough players and need to cancel. Maybe they should try that.