Kings XI Punjab were the in-team last IPL, playing fearless and aggressive cricket only to fall at the last hurdle, albeit dramatically. This year has seen a 360-degree turn, both in their performance and fortunes. Halfway through the tournament, they languish at the bottom, unsure if they can raise their game and make the cut to the last four.
While the management searches for a winning formula, they don’t need to go far. Manan Vohra, the Chandigarh-based opener who scored 324 in eight matches, including an impressive 67 in the finals, stole not just the hearts but also the attention from experts is yet to figure in the playing XI this season and for all that they know, could be the recipe for KXIP’s comeback.
Manan came into the IPL with good show in the Syed Mushtaq Ali domestic T20 for Punjab but with the KXIP having picked India Test opener Murali Vijay in this year’s auction, it was but inevitable that he would open with Virender Sehwag, thus forcing Manan to warm the bench.
But with the opening pair not firing, it is time to change and bring Manan back. Speaking to Newsline, Bhupinder Singh Senior, former KXIP Assistant Coach and Punjab senior team coach, said, “Manan rightly deserves a chance in the ongoing tournament. He has done well recently for Punjab and is in great shape both mentally and physically.”
KXIP management should re-think and include Manan in the playing XI against Sunrisers Hyderabad. He was phenomenal in last IPL, Champions League T-20 and then T-20 domestic tournament.”
It was against Sunrisers Hyderabad last IPL season that Manan did well with the bat and smacked Dale Steyn, catching attention of everyone. Adding more, Bhupinder Singh Senior said, “Manan’s body language is very good when it comes to T-20 cricket. He is made for this format. KXIP need to have good starts in order to post bigger totals.”
Ahead of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in March, 21-year-old Manan had worked extensively with Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra’s former mental conditioning coach, Amit Bhattacharjee. Manan was trained on improving his sight focus, reducing butterflies in the stomach and also worked on his bio-mechanics. All the techniques helped Manan raise the level of his game in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
With the team in dire straits, it seems getting local star Manan in for the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad would be the best thing to do. It will also be a crucial test for him to pave the way for his cricket career.
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