Kings XI Punjab’s miserable season just got worse. Their disastrous run in this IPL season has already ruled them out of a playoff berth. Now, with an off-field controversy brewing, the quest to avoid a second-successive bottom-place finish is likely to only get tougher.
On Thursday, reports emerged of an alleged altercation between co-owner Preity Zinta and head coach Sanjay Bangar following Kings XI’s one-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mohali on Monday.
The allegation is that soon after the game, Zinta pulled up Bangar over a tactical decision and that she even verbally abused him.
Both spent much of Thursday denying the allegation.
Zinta took to social media and refuted the claims. “I most definitely did not be (sic) disrespectful to our coach nor abuse anyone,” she wrote.
Bangar too denied any abuse was directed towards him.
“After our one-run defeat against RCB, there was the usual post-match discussion on the match with Kings XI owners….No reported abusive or disrespectful language was against me. Kings XI will continue to fight for its survival in the tournament,” Bangar wrote.
Zinta, however, revealed through her post that she was in fact disappointed that an in-form Axar Patel was not given a chance to bat during the tight run chase.
“I did speak to Veeru (Virender Sehwag, team mentor) and Sanjay (Bangar) for exactly 20 seconds and asked why Axe (Axar Patel) did not bat...,” she wrote.
Kings XI have had a wretched season. They have won just three of the ten games they have played.
Bangar, who incidentally is the only Indian head coach of an IPL team, has been under immense pressure to deliver. His plans so far for the side have failed miserably.
The team’s first-choice skipper David Miller was replaced by Murali Vijay after the former endured woeful form. The Indian partnership between Vijay and Bangar has seen an upswing in the players’ form, although results have yet to see a reversal.
Last season, the Punjab outfit won just three games in all. The team has been on a downward spiral since their runners-up finish in 2014, when they finished on top at the end of the league stage, but narrowly lost to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final.
Against the backdrop of the controversy, on Friday Kings XI will face an in-form Mumbai Indians, who are in hot pursuit of a play-off spot. Rain is expected to play a role.
On Thursday, Kings XI’s scheduled practice session was cancelled following a downpour in Visakhapatnam.