Punjab Kings’ lost opportunities
Punjab Kings possess some of the most talented players in the IPL. Still, they haven’t been able to qualify for the last two seasons on the trot.
When a team has KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal opening the batting for them with the options of Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques and Aiden Markram available in the middle order, the fact they have not been able to chase down targets repeatedly beggars belief.
It is because of the soft underbelly that KL Rahul in particular has had to go slow against his natural game, despite finishing the season with 626 runs at an average of 62.60. As a result, Rahul has left some runs on the table for no fault of his.
The moment he gets out, he has seen enough collapses to think twice before taking on the opposition bowlers. There have been multiple occasions when the team has been extremely close to the finish line but has not managed to get across it. The losses have cost them big time as they have failed to qualify for the playoffs repeatedly.
KL Rahul finally let it all out in Punjab’s last league match of IPL 2021 against Chennai Super Kings as he smashed 98 not out at a strike rate of over 200. His disappointment and helplessness was heard when he tried to make a case for his slow strike rate in the post match presentation.
“It was really hot today. Plan was simple. The numbers guys pulled up a few permutations and combinations. They said if we chase this before 14 overs it gives us the best chance. So the plan was clear and I had the licence to go from ball 1. One of those days when it comes off when you have complete clarity. All of them hit the middle of the bat. I don’t think I have creamed the ball that sweetly in some time.”
“When you get going like that you feel like you can hit every ball. You need to hold your shape. The only thing I keep telling myself is I am not a power-hitter. I still rely on timing and getting my body in good positions. So I keep telling myself to set up strong, watch the ball and trust my instincts to play the right shot. In the nets I train my mind and train my instincts to make the right choice in the middle. There’s no better feeling than hitting the ball in the middle of the bat and watching the ball fly all over the park.”