The two teams that finished bottom of the IPL table in 2015 faced off at the Kotla in Delhi on Friday night. Both Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils had lost their opening fixture this year and would have been looking at this match as a chance to get their first win in this year’s tournament.
In reality there was only one team that looked likely to win and that was the Daredevils. Last year’s bottom-placed team, Kings XI Punjab, lost Murali Vijay in the second over and lost the plot in the rest of their innings.
It was a well-worn trope that the Kings XI gave us. The top order failed, the middle order exposed to the new ball failed, the lower order gave us some lusty blows and then failed and the team set an uncompetitive total. For the second match in a row Manan Vohra impressed, making 32 from 24 balls, one of only three KXIP batsmen to score at better than a run a ball. As the others were Mohit Sharma, who was batting at nine, and Pardeep Sahu, batting at ten, it isn’t difficult see just how terrible this inning was for the visitors.
It was all so predictable that the only surprise was in the team selection. In the first match loss to the Gujarat Lions one of the few positives was the batting of Marcus Stoinis. For some reason Kings XI decided to leave him out for Shaun Marsh. Predictably the less exciting Marsh brother, who hasn’t played T20 since January and who hasn’t played any cricket in a month, underwhelmed with his 13 runs from 16 balls. Stoinis made twice as many runs twice as fast in the opening fixture.
A four-wicket burst from Amit Mishra effectively ended this game as a sporting spectacle as he dismissed Vohra, Shaun Marsh, David Miller and Glenn Maxwell in the space of 16 balls of his spell.
Maxwell is such a fascinating batsman. He can make the game look so easy but more often than not he makes it look very hard. He has played for KXIP 34 times. He has made four fifties; all of them in his brilliant 2014 season where he helped the team get to the final.
Since the end of IPL 7 he has averaged 18 in T20 cricket. In the IPL, his highest score since that stellar season two years ago is just 43. Maxwell is undoubtedly one of the most exciting players in the world; the concern for any team that picks him is the long batting troughs in between the massive peaks. This franchise is so dependent on his runs that it only adds to this issue.
This was the archetypal Maxwell low score. His team were 52-3 and in danger of collapsing to an uncompetitive total. While still yet to get off the mark he tried hitting the ball out the ground to the third delivery he faced. He was well caught at long off by Carlos Brathwaite. All of a sudden the team were 52-4 and were collapsing to an uncompetitive total.
Not that I would change anything about him or the way he plays. It is far too much fun to watch to want him to do anything different, whether he succeeds or fails.
Such was the familiarity of this performance you would have been mistaken for thinking they had accidentally tuned in to a rerun of a Kings XI match from last year. Miller and Maxwell fail, the team loses.
Having set a total of just 111-9 the Kings XI were in need of a perfect bowling and fielding performance. While they had batted poorly this was a difficult pitch that was offering assistance to spinners and seamers. Instead Kings XI fluffed that part of the game as well.
First Murali Vijay dropped Quinton de Kock when the South African opener was on just seven runs. Then Pardeep Sahu completely deceived de Kock and a relatively simple stumping chance was missed by Wriddhiman Saha when he was on 22.
As de Kock went on to make a match winning 59 not out, the Kings XI were left to wonder what might have been. Chances are the Daredevils would still have won and won easily but at no point did the Kings XI give themselves a chance.
They were like that friend who is on the verge of drinking too much an office party. You warn them to stop but they still pour another shot of tequila before calling the boss a prick and photocopying their genitals and pinning it on the notice board next to the coffee machine. It is ugly and unfortunate but they had no one but themselves to blame.
By the time Axar Patel took the wicket of Sanju Samson after he had put on 91 runs in partnership with de Kock it was all too late. The Kings XI had sobered up slightly and were thinking that perhaps the fielding equivalent of a verbal assault on the boss was a bad idea. But the deed was done, the match was lost. And lost badly. The Daredevils had eight wickets and 39 balls that went unused.
The Kings XI Punjab record is played two, lost two, failed to compete in two. Something needs to happen to turn this around. If you have an idea of what can be done perhaps you could put something on a postcard and send it to the team hotel.