Lehmann pins KXIP Play-Off hopes on home games

Coach wants team to ‘make hay while the sun shines’

Mohali 08 May 2013
After straight losses against the three most star-studded sides in the tournament – KKR, MI and CSK – Kings XI Punjab came back to create one of the biggest upsets of the IPL when they chased down RCB’s 190 from a near improbable situation.

Now KXIP return home for two games, the first of which is against the in-form Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. Ahead of the game, coach, Darren Lehmann, said the David Miller (101 off 38 balls) - inspired win over RCB has put the team high on the confidence pedestal.

“The last one was an outstanding win against a quality side and we’re high on confidence after that,” Lehmann said before quickly acknowledging RR’s fine form with their home wins.

“Now again we’re up against a side that has been in very good form. But it’s nice to be at home considering all teams’ home domination. We now have only one away game and the rest of them are at home. So, it’s time to make hay while the sun shines,” Lehmann said.

Considering Miller’s red-hot form and KXIP’s top-order inconsistency, it might not be a bad idea for them to promote the young South African at No.3. Lehmann said the team will look to bank on his versatility by using him to suit the situations.

“He can bat anywhere. It is just the way things have shaped up at the moment that he’s batting at five. He batted at four when we chased down 185 against Pune Warriors. It depends on the bowling attack and the match situation. But he can bat anywhere and still score runs.”

Miller has been a revelation this season and still only 23 years of age, he has ample time on his hands to carve out a successful international career for himself. Lehmann said the KXIP team takes pride in their policy of nurturing young talent.

“We like to promote youth and give them the chance. I think we have done that very well this year. Hopefully that stands us in good stead moving forward. You come here and become better experienced players as the year passes,” he said.

While the youngsters bring in flair and dynamism into the side, Lehmann feels they need to learn the art of clinching the big moments in a match, if the team are to dream of making the final cut. The win over RCB pleased the coach in that regard.

“We’ve probably played well 80 per cent of the times in most games but have missed out because we have failed to seize the big moments,” Lehmann said referring to KXIP’s six losses in the tournament so far.

“We’ve missed a catch here and there, or not taken our chances with the bat or ball. We haven’t been able to trust our plans right in those games, in crunch situations. However, I thought we did that really well the other night – against RCB. In the remaining games starting Thursday, we really need to make sure we get that 20 per cent right too,” the coach said.

To their next opposition, the former Australian batsman had some high praises to offer as he stressed the importance of putting the first foot right in the shortest format. “I think they’re a pretty good team unit. They’ve had a similar side for a while now and Rahul (Dravid) has done a pretty good job with the young team. In T20 what matters most is how to start the game and get on the top. So, whether we bat or bowl first tomorrow, we’ll have to begin well,” he said.
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