Let’s face it. The Kings XI Punjab have no meaningful role left to play in this edition of the Indian Premier League. They have nothing else but pride to play for.
But given the depths of despair and despondency the team has sunk to, it’s going to take a huge effort and some tough decisions to salvage even some pride. The team management has so far steadfastly resisted from making any major changes to the playing XI, hoping the big guns would start firing. But with the tournament crossing the halfway mark, they just can’t go on living on hope eternally. It’s time they pick up players purely on form, not reputation, and sooner they do it, the better it would be for them. “Yes, there would be few changes but we aren’t going in for sweeping changes. We will pick the final XI after weighing the strengths and weaknesses of Royal Challengers Bangalore,” said Kumar Sangakkara.
Of the few changes they are contemplating to make, the very first name they will need to have a hard and close look at is that of Yuvraj Singh. It’s not easy to drop (or rest) someone who’s been your biggest match-winner in the not-so-distant past, but then desperate situations demand desperate remedies.
The left-hander has been a pale shadow of his real self, and almost everyone has his own set of reasons for Yuvi’s failure, ranging from the apparent loss of form and fitness to the speculative struggling-with-injury and more sinister, not-giving-his-best after losing captaincy.
The other name likely to be debated is that of Mahela Jayawardene. The former Sri Lankan skipper has been in equally woeful form but has been fortunate in not attracting as much attention and criticism as Yuvraj Singh.
One could argue who would step in if these two stalwarts, the bulwarks of the Kings XI batting in normal times, are dropped? That’s something that will give some headache to the Kings XI management, as they don’t have too big a talent waiting in the wings. Nevertheless, for them, change is the need of the hour.
Unlike them, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are spoilt for choice. With Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Cameroon White and Kevin Pietersen making it to the final XI, they still have Mark Boucher, Eion Morgan, Roelof van der Merwe and Ross Taylor in the reserves.
Though they have lost their last game to the Chennai Super Kings, they will still be the overwhelming favourites here on Friday.
The Royal Challengers arrived here without their baggage. It couldn’t be accommodated in the flight they came from Chennai. It’s expected to reach Chandigarh somewhere midnight as it was being transported by road from Delhi.