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The Kings XI Punjab are riding high on confidence after two back-to-back victories. Glenn Maxwell and David Miller have ripped apart bowling attacks thus far and chased down huge totals with ease. But there still are some doubts about their bowling attack, which has allowed the opposition the leeway to post huge totals on the board.
Kings XI Punjab captain George Bailey agreed that there was scope for improvement in the bowling department. “I do know that there are things that we can improve with our bowling, but I think they both have been really good batting wickets, so it’s been challenging to work out exactly what a good score is. I guess we will start to learn more about that in the next couple of games. But ideally, you don’t want to be chasing 200 or close to 200 every time you bat. It becomes difficult. I don’t think we have seen the best of our bowling attack yet. So, we are just after consistency from our team.”
Barring Glenn Maxwell and David Miller, none of the other batsmen have looked as effective. The eyeballs have been on Virender Sehwag, but the opener has hardly made his presence felt. Sehwag though had the backing of Kings XI Punjab coach Sanjay Bangar. “He is hitting the ball well. In the last game, he was slightly unlucky. It went off the middle of the bat and straight to a fielder; it could have gone anywhere. We know, within our own minds, that a good knock from Viru is just around the corner,” Bangar said.
Bangar reserved a special mention for Cheteshwar Pujara, who anchored the innings at one end during Kings XI’s chase of 192 against the Rajasthan Royals. We are pretty pleased with the way Cheteshwar is shaping up because he has a role to play. Despite this being Twenty20 cricket, I still believe there is room for a solid batsman at the top of the order. I am pretty sure as the tournament goes on, he will pick up his game. It’s just a matter of getting used to the T20 stuff. I believe if he can do that, it will be good for the team, and we will not have to rely on just the talents we have in the middle order in Maxwell, Miller and Bailey.
Up next, Kings XI meet the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have a good quality bowling side featuring the likes of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma and leggie Amit Mishra. “Not just their bowling, I think their batting is very strong too,” Bailey said. “I think they are just a very well-balanced team. They didn’t probably bat as well as they would have liked in that first game, but their bowling almost dragged them back into it. That’s how good it is. So we’ve just got to be aware of that, and once again, sum up the conditions because they may be different again tomorrow.”
In their first game of the competition, the Sunrisers Hyderabad managed to score just 133 in their 20 overs. Their bowlers did get the game to the final over of the match, but the Rajasthan Royals held their nerves to scamper to a four wicket win. But SRH took a lot of heart from the game according to their coach Tom Moody. “The Sunrisers have not lost their fighting spirit. Even though we felt we didn’t get a score that was enough, what we showed were the qualities we showed last year - the never-die spirit, which can only be derived by a team and not individuals. We have got a team that is prepared to fight," he said.
It has been the case with the Sunrisers where they have always relied on their bowling to do the job for them in the past. This time, however, they boast of a stronger batting line-up with some power-packed batsmen in the side, like David Warner and Aaron Finch, who would need to go all guns blazing when they face the Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday. The Kings XI are on a high after two back-to-back victories with Glenn Maxwell taking centre stage on both occasions. The Sunrisers though have their plans in place for the hard-hitting batsman.
“We have done our thorough review and analysis on Glenn Maxwell.” Moody said. “A lot of players in our side are pretty familiar with Maxwell, like Aaron Finch and David Warner and our assistant coach Simon Hlemot, who coaches Maxwell in Melbourne. We are pretty aware of what his strengths are. But at the end of the day, he is like any other top-quality player; when they get going, they are hard to stop. There is more than Maxwell to concentrate. He is in a rich vein of form, but we don’t want to be distracted by just one player.”
Moody also reiterated that the team needed to focus on their preparation instead of focusing on the opposition. “We need to execute our game as well as possible. We have got no control over Kings XI Punjab’s preparation and the way they play. What we do have control over is how we play and execute our plans. We will be judged on how well we execute with the ball, the bat and in the field, and if we do those three disciplines well, we are hoping tomorrow night we will walk away with a win.”
Meanwhile, captain Shikhar Dhawan was happy with the team’s preparations ahead of the second game. “We are really happy with our preparations. We got a lot of positives to take from our first game where we did well as a bowling unit. Three or four of our batsmen were at the crease for a long time. It is just about getting that momentum right and we are excited for tomorrow’s game.”
Dhawan managed just 38 in the first game while building up a 75-run partnership with David Warner. But the left-handed opener was confident of a good show with the bat in the next game. “The good thing is that my flow is back and I was playing well in the last game. I am looking forward to playing all the games and making a big score for my team tomorrow," Dhawan said.
Talking about Dhawan’s form, Moody added, “I think one of the exciting things from my point of view with regards to Shikhar is that the match leading into the start of the tournament, we played Delhi Daredevils wherein Shikhar scored a magnificent 90. I have been working with him the last few days in the nets and he is hitting the ball as sweetly as I can remember. But we also have a number of top-order batsmen who need to put their hands up and take up the responsibility.”