A tournament that once had its fair share of foreign captains, the IPL has come a long way to produce six homegrown leaders now. Franchises are ready to invest more in Indian players and the shift of ideology reflects in most squads. Only Kings XI Punjab are still reliant on foreign players than other teams.
To start with, they have largely depended on foreign players as captains. Till date, they have had eight captains among whom Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag are the only Indians to lead the side. The only recognised India players in the KXIP squad are Murali Vijay and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha --- both regulars at the Test level, while the rest like Mohit Sharma and Axar Patel are not picked regularly.
While Vijay has two IPL centuries to his name and Saha hit that century which almost won them the 2014 final, KXIP still rely on the trio of David Miller, Glenn Maxwell and Shaun Marsh to deliver together. The team does well if at least two among Miller, Maxwell and Marsh click. With that not happening so far, KXIP look a side yet to reach its batting potential.
Pressure’s perhaps more on Maxwell, one of IPL’s earliest million-dollar players, to deliver with the bat, and not just by chancing his arm. The youngest captain this IPL, Miller has found the challenge difficult to begin with. The stress compounds once there are no runs from his bat as well. Under such dire circumstances, Miller is faced with the challenge of raising his game against the only other side to have an overseas leader this IPL.
With David Warner and now Shikhar Dhawan finding form, Sunrisers Hyderabad seem a far more balanced side in this match. KXIP’s only positive from their previous loss to Kolkata Knight Riders was the way Marsh struck form by hitting a fifty.
A few days ago, Sunrisers too looked as wobbly. But they turned it around in two spectacular wins. Punjab need something similar. They certainly have not lost the mentality to do it. “One win tomorrow and we can be mid table,” said Miller. But it’s time Miller and his men walk the talk soon.