Since their semifinal appearance in the inaugural season in 2008, Kings XI Punjab have been resigned to battles outside the top-four.
There was agony in store on Sunday night as well after Manish Pandey’s knock eclipsed Wriddhiman Saha’s stunning century to hand the Knight Riders the title.
Dishing out exciting cricket was, in fact, a trend George Bailey’s men adhered to right through the season.
Glenn Maxwell, the most valuable player of the IPL, set the first half of the league alight with his boundary-fetching strokes, generated by quick hand movements.
Bailey, Mitchell Johnson and David Miller had their moments, Virender Sehwag kept a promise to his son, while pacer Sandeep Sharma and left-arm spinner Akshar Patel emerged as future India prospects.
Even the 20-year-old Manan Vohra justified his surprise retention with a couple of flamboyant knocks, including the 67 in the title decider.
But at the start of the season, there was cynicism. After all, the team did not feature prominent India stars nor did it have in-demand foreign imports, apart from Johnson.
Young Indian talent was thrown into the mix with the likes of Maxwell and Miller, not known for their consistency, and Sehwag, out of national favour. Bailey, the skipper, had led Australia to an unimpressive World T20 campaign.
The team did not guarantee success but promised entertainment, if it clicked. After he rolled back the clock with an enthralling century in the qualifier against the Super Kings, Sehwag placed coach Sanjay Bangar at par with Gary Kirsten.
Bangar, the players said, had used his man-management skills to bring the best out of them.
“I think this group is a wonderful one. I have played in a lot of cricket teams over a lot of years and worked very hard at building teams and sometimes it just clicks and you get it right. This is a wonderful group of people, most importantly, and Sanjay is the leader of that, he is the head of that,” said Bailey.
They may have finished second best, but Kings XI turned out to be the team most would have paid to watch.