Shaun Marsh has been with Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) through thick and thin. From the high of the first season, when the team qualified for the semifinals, to the low of finishing at the bottom last season, Marsh has seen it all.
In between, he was a part of the side that made its maiden final in 2014.
Into his ninth season, the Australian continues to be a vital cog in the team’s scheme of things. The team owners may have reshuffled the batting line-up, bringing in more star power and big hitters, but Marsh has continued to flourish.
Despite the team languishing at the bottom of the table, Marsh has shown why he remains one of the most consistent performers for KXIP.
Against Mumbai Indians, after openers Manan Vohra and Murali Vijay were back in the pavilion, Marsh hit a fluent 45 off 34 balls. Till the time he was in the middle with Glenn Maxwell, KXIP looked good to chase down the stiff target of 190.
In the previous encounter against Sunrisers Hyderabad, with wickets falling in a heap, Marsh blazed his way to a 34-ball 40.
It was his unbeaten 56 against Kolkata Knight Riders that got him into the groove. With 158 runs from five outings, Marsh is the second-highest scorer for KXIP after Vohra.
Having played in each season, barring the second in which he suffered a hamstring injury, Marsh remains the longest-serving player for KXIP. Overlooked in the player auctions in the inaugural season, he was later brought on board by the team owners. The faith paid off as Marsh finished the tournament as the Orange Cap holder, scoring 616 runs in 11 innings and propelling the team to the semifinals.
It was his breakthrough performance in IPL that made the Aussie selectors take note. Marsh made his international T20 debut for the national team in June 2008 against West Indies. Subsequently, he cemented his place in the ODI and Test teams.
“It is good to see Shaun back among runs. He has been a successful run scorer for us in the past. Always good to have confidence with him,” skipper David Miller said after Marsh top scored for the team against Sunrisers.
Even Glenn Maxwell, who signalled his return to form with a half-century against Mumbai Indians, acknowledged his importance. “Marsh batted beautifully against Mumbai. It took him just one knock to return to form and he hasn’t look back since then.”
After three solid knocks, KXIP will need more displays from Marsh if they are to move out of the bottom and get their IPL campaign back on track.