Before the start of the season, many fans and pundits had predicted Kings XI Punjab as one of the contenders for the top-four spots, but it didn't turn out that way
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had started their campaign in IPL 2019 well, but as the tournament progressed, they went off the track. Their playoff hopes were dashed after four consecutive defeats. Before the start of the season, many fans and pundits had predicted KXIP as one of the contenders for the top-four spots, but it didn't turn out that way and, in all likelihood, KXIP will end the season as the seventh-ranked team, only ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Let's have a look at what ailed KXIP this season.
In the batting department, KXIP depend heavily on their opening combination of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. It would be fair to say that Rahul (522* runs) and Gayle (462* runs) didn't disappoint and scored consistently throughout the season. Other than these two, Mayank Agarwal, who batted at No 3, had a fixed batting position, but all other middle order batsmen kept moving in and out of the team, and up and down in the batting order.
KXIP used David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran, Sam Curran, and Karun Nair in their middle order but no batsman had a fixed batting position. Punjab made changes in almost every match and couldn't find their best playing eleven even after playing 13 matches in the tournament.
Over the years, we have seen that teams with consistent playing elevens do well in a long tournament like the IPL.
KXIP have quality mystery spinners and, in the IPL 2019 auction, they had invested heavily on young Varun Chakravarthy to add more variety to their spin department, led by their skipper Ravichandran Ashwin. Injuries to Chakravarthy (finger) and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (shoulder) forced Punjab to look beyond plans developed ahead of the auction.
While Rahul and Gayle scored runs, they couldn't give flying starts to KXIP as they did in the previous season. Rahul is the second-highest run-scorer of IPL 2019 but his strike rate is just 129.85, which is not too good for an opening batsman in T20, especially if we compare it to his strike rate of 158.41 last season.
In the bowling department, other than Mohammed Shami, who bowled well throughout the 13 matches and took 17 wickets, no other bowler really stood up. They leaked runs in the powerplay overs. However, it also needs to be said that injury to Mujeeb, who is very effective with the new ball, was a big blow for Punjab.
Ashwin also talked about this problem in the press conference after the match against Kolkata Knight Riders.
"One of the areas we've definitely lacked is the powerplay, both with the ball and the bat, if we look at it in hindsight. Last year, we had great powerplay batting with Chris (Gayle) and KL (Rahul), but this year we couldn't get off to great starts, obviously because the pressure was on them and they had to do a job. But we have to address this going into the next year because we've lost most games in powerplay battles."Last Updated 4, May 2019, 4:54 PM IST