IPL 2017: Kings XI Punjab let down by misfiring overseas stars despite Manan Vohra coming of age
Kings XI Punjab's biggest names have failed to live up to their billing, and after their horrendous combined showing against the Sunrisers where they were upstaged by young Vohra, it could be time for some much needed soul searching.
Manan Vohra, the enigma, the one who flashes a quick twenty and disappears before the powerplay is done. Against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday night he was so much more. The dashing right hander finally delivered an innings of incredible substance, one that Kings XI Punjab would have known he was capable of for some time. When they cleaned out their squad ahead of the 2014 Indian Premier League season, Vohra was one of only two players retained but failed to deliver in the ensuing years. Finally he came of age, albeit in a losing cause.
Unfortunately Vohra’s masterful innings wasn’t enough and his side fell an agonising five runs short in Hyderabad but it was through no fault of the 23-year-old Punjab batsman. Vohra has threatened a big score for some time, and has always looked good at the top of the order but too often has he been guilty of throwing it away just as he got started.
Vohra’s brilliant 95 off 50 balls wasn’t chanceless, he was reprieved by the umpire when trapped in front by Mohammad Nabi early on, before being dropped by Shikhar Dhawan late in the match, but he cashed in and made the most of his chances when the team required it. Unfortunately for the Kings XI none of their batsman were able to support Vohra with the next highest score being 13 by Eoin Morgan, off 17 balls. The other batsmen contributed just 43 runs off 58 balls to Kings XI’s cause, and their struggles highlight just how good Vohra was, and how bad his teammates were.
On a slow surface offering some turn Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was always going to be a big threat to Kings XI’s chase but Vohra played him with relative ease and put pressure on the young bowler to cash in on some loose bowling. If not for Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s stunning spell of 5/19 Vohra’s heroics could have seen his team home.
As impressive as Vohra was, Kings XI’s senior batsmen, in particular their overseas stars were just as disappointing in what is becoming a worrying trend after only five games. KXIP have now lost their last three, and have been regularly let down by their overseas batting stars that were expected to do the bulk of the scoring.
Against Sunrisers Hyderabad the quartet of Hashim Amla, Glenn Maxwell, Morgan and David Miller contributed just 24 runs off 36 balls. This follows a pattern of failure in the first five games from the sides most senior and most important batsmen.
Of the overseas contingent, only Hashim Amla has crossed 50, but has not been able to provide the fast starts his team would have hoped for. If New Zealand opening batsman Martin Guptill is fit it might be time to bring him in. Captain Maxwell made two scores in the 40s in the first two wins of the season but has been poor in the three losses. Known for his attacking play and bravado, Maxwell has crossed the line between being aggressive and being stupid.
Initially the Australian seemed to be thriving on the added responsibility of captaincy, but in the last three matches he has not led from the front the way his team, and himself would expect.
David Miller has long been star for Kings XI Punjab but so far the tenth edition of the IPL has been a poor one for the powerful left-hander. The South African has struggled for timing and looked all at sea, particularly against spin bowling. As someone who comes in during the middle overs and is expected to help Kings XI finish strongly, he needs to be better starting against spin. It could be time for Miller to make way for someone like Shaun Marsh.
Eoin Morgan hasn’t fared much better than Miller in his two games, but the English limited overs captain is known for his middle order prowess and might be given more time to find his form. Otherwise the Irishman’s spot may also be in danger.
In the end Kings XI did well to get as close as they did to Hyderabad, particularly after their poor start in which Amla was dismissed first ball and Maxwell followed shortly after to a rash stroke. In reality the scoreline flattered the Punjab side, as it was Vohra’s lone hand that gave them any glimmer of hope. That he batted so well without any support from his senior teammates makes his innings all the more impressive. Hopefully for the sake of his team he can kick on for the rest of the tournament and pull the overseas stars along with him.
When Kings XI stacked their batting with overseas talent for this IPL they would have expected these proven international performers to deliver the goods and do the bulk of the scoring. This was a requirement for Kings XI to have a successful season. So far their biggest names have failed to live up to their billing, and after their horrendous combined showing against the Sunrisers where they were upstaged by young Vohra, it could be time for some much needed soul searching.
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