With domestic players shouldering responsibility for the team’s success, Kings XI Punjab have been a revelation this season.
The team, which won 11 games out of 14 this season, qualified for playoffs on top of league table.
There is more to Punjab’s success story than the Glenn Maxwell and David Miller orchestrated mayhem.
Yes, the duo have been at the forefront of many successful chases and have wrecked havoc, to put it mildly; but Punjab have also found a bunch of domestic players who have stood up and raised their game to match that of their more illustrated teammates.
If for the last two matches, Vohra has been helping Punjab get a flying start, over the course of the season one will find likes of spinner Shivam Shar ma, all-rounder Rishi Dhawan, medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, currently the third highest wicket taker in IPL, and all-rounder Akshar Patel putting in match winning performances.
Off the regions players , Sandeep, Dhawan and Vohra have str ung to g ether match winning performances.
The only disappointment has been Mandeep Singh who opened for the first few matches only to be replaced by Manan Vohra.
Even skipper George Bailey has heaped praise on the bunch of talented youngsters.
“I wouldn’t want it other way around where we are struggling to put a team to gether. We have been very lucky. We had Sandeep (Shar ma) doing well for us, Akshar Patel also had a nice start to the tournament; Manan (Vohra) has put in some outstanding perfor mances.
Really proud of that we can provide youngsters an environment where they can come and perform,” Punjab skipper added.
Vohra has been another find of season for Kings XI Punjab. Though, the Chandig arh lad has played just five games so far and was brought in very late, Vohra has made most of the opportunities. He was one of the two players retained by Punjab, the other being South African David Miller.
Vohra has so far given Punjab flying starts in company of opener Virender Sehwag. On Sunday, Vohra yet again missed a well-deserved half century, but his 47 of f 38 balls and a crucial third-wicket partnership with 96 runs with Miller ensured Punjab won with six overs to spare. In Vohra, Punjab has found an able partner for Virender Sehwag. Not only the 20-year-old youngster can match Sehwag in run scoring abilities but as shown today has a cool head, which can judge the situation and change tactics.
He was bit cautious at the start but opened up hammering Jimmy Neesham for 18 runs two fours in the sixth over.
In Kings XI Punjab’s match against Delhi Daredevils at Feroz Shah Kotla, the 20-yearold Vohra taking a leaf out of Viru’s book and took apart the opposition bowling.
Vohra’s 19-ball blizzard for 42 runs laid the foundation for another successful chase by the Punjab side. Moreover, Vohra dominated the opening wicket stand of 67 runs coming of f just 6 overs with Sehwag contributing 16 runs only.
In fact, the way Punjab has played this season, no total has looked beyond their reach. Vohra did something similar to Dale Steyn during their match against Hyderabad on May 14. Pulling an outright fast bowler for a maximum says a lot about a 20-year-old player talent and confidence.
His 20-ball 47 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in his first game of this season also set up a successful chase of 206 runs.
Vohra has credited his success to seniors like Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller in the dressing room. Vohra had said t hat having players like them in the squad make it easier for the youngster as there is no pressure to perform.
Medium pacer is currently the highest wicket taker fo r Ki ng s XI Punj ab. Hailing from Patiala, he has teamed up with international Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson to provide Punjab with early breakthroughs. His swing bowling has seen him bag two Man of the Match awards this season.
Sandeep has been a lynchpin for Punjab Ranji team also and has taken 17 wickets from 10 matches this season for KXIP.
The medium pacer credited his interactions with Virender Sehwag as big help. The 21-year-old said Sehwag has helped him read wickets and he has also helped me in making plans for particular batsman according to his strengths and weaknesses. Sandeep has two three wicket hauls of 4-0-21-3 and 3-115-3 against Kolkata Knight Riders and RCB, respectively, for which he was given Man of the Match awards.
His scalps i nclude players like Chris Gayle, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir.
In fact he has managed to get better of Gayle, Patel and Kohli twice this season with all the batsmen failing to swing the pacer is able to generate with the new ball.
Sandeep action is more or less molded on that of India pacer Praveen Kumar.
Line and length are his strengths and on top of it he is also capable of swinging the ball.
He is 24-year-old youngster who has done well for Kings XI Punjab. Hailing from Himachal Pradesh, Dhawan has been consistent with both bat and ball which has earned him praise from one and all. His figures of 4-025-2 were instrumental in Punjab’s 16-run win over Rajasthan Royal s which ensured that his team finish at the top of the league table.
Rajasthan needed 180 to post a win that would have been enough for them to qualify for the playoffs. In the third over sent down by Dhawan the medium pacer dismissed Rahane and Watson off successive balls to knock the wind out of Royals chase.
Dhawan has 13 wickets from 12 matches. Praising the youngsters Kings XI Punjab skipper George Bailey said that the team has been lucky.
Dhawan also heaped praise on KXIP coach Sanjay Bangar crediting him for success. Dhawan said, having an Indian coach is a big advantage as he understands the mindset of Indian players. Bangar has also provided me with in-depth analysis of my bowling and has helped me formulate plans for the match. With bat, Dhawan has only five innings coming low down the order and has scored 68 runs.
Dhawan has played 33 first class matches for Himachal Pradesh and has scored 1539 runs at an average of 40.50 and has also taken 145 wickets.