Kings XI Punjab have never been among the top sides in the Indian Premier League. They have made the play-offs just twice, and in the ongoing season, their performance has been uninspiring.
At the bottom of the table with four games to play, Kings XI are on course for the wooden spoon for the second successive season, unless they turn it around drastically. On Friday, Kings XI face Mumbai Indians, who are still in the hunt for a last-four berth, in Visakhapatnam on Friday.
In the 2014 season, Kings XI had topped the league stage, though they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final. The only side to have an Indian head coach in Sanjay Bangar, Kings XI under his stewardship and then-captain George Bailey were a cohesive unit that seemed to have figured out the IPL puzzle. The partnership worked well and had an inspiring effect on the team. The batting was their biggest strength with Glenn Maxwell and David Miller producing explosive performances.
The team failed to replicate the performance last year, with Maxwell being the biggest disappointment, finishing with an average of just over 13. He has improved this season, averaging just over 22, but has hardly made an impact.
Ahead of the season, Bailey was released and Miller was handed the added responsibility of leading the side. The job seemed to have affected his performance as he had an average of 16.37. He was eventually replaced as captain by Murali Vijay, who has been their most consistent batsman.
Though the change of guard has helped Kings XI deliver a better performance in the last two games, a play-off spot is too far to achieve.
To compound matters, Maxwell is recovering from a side strain and missed the previous game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, which they lost narrowly by one run.
The team can take heart from the performance against RCB that saw them come close to the target of 175. A game earlier, they had notched up 182 against Delhi Daredevils.
With no target in mind, it will be interesting to see how Bangar inspires his wards.