With four wins out of seven matches, Kings XI Punjab are currently placed at the fourth spot in the points table of IPL this season. The team has won all of their three home matches at IS Bindra PCA Stadium this season and with seven matches remaining for the team in the league, the R Ashwin-led team would look to enter the play-offs this season with four of the remaining seven matches to be played at their home turf. Kings XI Punjab will face Royal Challengers Bangalore at Mohali on Saturday and KXIP coach Mike Hesson believes that the team has been playing good cricket.
“We have played seven games so far and have won some tight games. Even though we lost the last match against Mumbai Indians, it was a close match. We are pleased to play as a group and putting ourselves in a position to win against some good teams. We are not perfect yet but we also know that we are playing some good cricket. I think playing three matches in five days has also been a challenge for the team. As a coach, we make sure that we control the work load. Regarding the toss for tomorrow’s match, it is one of those things which you cannot actually guarantee. For us, statistics does not matter. Most of the sides want to chase but it is hugely important to do well in both the aspects of the game,” the coach said.
Kings XI Punjab openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle are currently among the top-five batsmen in this year’s IPL with Rahul being the second highest scorer with a total of 317 runs, including one century and three half-centuries. Gayle too has played his part for the team with a total of 223 runs, including two half-centuries. While only two other KXIP batsmen in the form of Sarfaraz Khan and David Miller are among the top 30 run-getters this season, the team has crossed the 170-run mark four times in seven matches this season.
While Chris Gayle suffered a back spasm during last match, Mayank Aggarwal too suffered a finger injury during last match but coach Henson sounded confident about their availability for Saturday’s match.
“Rahul’s maiden hundred speaks for him. A 63-ball 100 against a strong team like Mumbai is always special and it came on a pitch where the ball had been seaming for the first few overs. His hitting in the last overs meant that we could get past 190. He switched gears when the team required and such a innings gives the team a lot of confidence. Chris Gayle has made a good recovery from back spasm. He is likely to play against Bangalore. Mayank too has made a good recovery. He had got some damage to his finger but hopefully he will play,” the coach said.
Kings XI Punjab lost their last match against Mumbai Indians by three wickets with the win coming off the last over. Ankit Rajpoot, who was one of the heroes for KXIP during their last home match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, gave away 51 runs in his quota of four overs. The fast bowler also suffered a split webbing during the match.
“Ankit is an experienced cricketer and knows the nature of the T20 format. The way he bowled against Sunrisers Hyderabad was exceptional and he played a huge part in the win. He came back well after a tough start against Mumbai Indians. It is always going to be tough for a bowler to bowl the last over. Bowling at the death does not work in your favour always and even the best bowlers in the world struggle sometimes. Ankit put his hand up to bowl the last over and the experience will help him. Regarding his injury, it will take him some to recover,” concluded the coach.