Kumar Sangakkara is clearly a man in distress. His team is going from bad to worse with every defeat, his own form is a cause of concern, and, worse of all, he just can’t seem to get his bowlers to bowl their overs in the stipulated time.
For the third time in the six matches they have played so far, his team had a slow over-rate on Saturday. That earned the skipper a one-match ban and a massive penalty of $50,000 (Rs 22.5 lakh approx), along with a fine of $20,000 (Rs 9 lakh) on each member of the team. That makes the cumulative fine that the team has attracted amount a humongous $400,000.
Ironically, the ban just might prove a blessing in disguise for the rattled Sri Lankan. It will allow him a much-needed break from the breakneck pace at which the competition moves to sit back and figure what’s gone so terribly wrong.
What tops his list of the problems is the collective lack of form of the major international players - Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara himself. The Kings XI batting depends largely on these three in the absence of any big domestic names in the side, and all three of them are struggling at the moment.
In a desperate move, the batting order was shuffled against the Knight Riders and Yuvraj pushed up to the top of the order, only to have the change backfire. “I think Yuvraj Singh is always a better bet in the middle overs and towards the end. He could provide the required impetus to the innings anywhere between the sixth to the last over,” said Sourav Ganguly, the Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper. And one can’t help but take Ganguly’s assessment of Yuvraj and his abilities at face value.
Then, there’s the issue of captaincy. The skipper perhaps hasn’t slipped into the role as seamlessly as he would have wanted, and is finding it tough to get the players to respond.
The other day when Irfan Pathan said ‘Yuvraj understands the Indian mentality better than others would’ — though without any insinuations on Sangakkara’s captaincy; he was full of praise for the Sri Lankan — it did leave some scope to see a disconnect, though not malicious, in the team. The fact that the entire team management — coach, captain and assistant coach — are foreigners could also result in a communication gap.
Whatever the reason, Kings XI Punjab is a house in utter chaos right now.
The team needs to get its act together or else it’ll be tough to rise from the bottom spot in the standings.