Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle on Thursday heaped praise on Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and compared him to Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni. In a column written for Times of India, Bhogle describe KXIP as the “sleeper-hit” of the tournament with five wins in nine games so far, and credited Ashwin for the results.
“So why are they doing well? You could look at Chris Gayle and his starts, KL Rahul and his acceptance of a new role even if it means he uses up too many deliveries sometimes, Mayank Agarwal who has been excellent without too many talking about him, but this doesn’t get you into the play-offs. The key has been the captain. It is fashionable to look for weaknesses in R Ashwin but with Dhoni, he has been the standout leader of this IPL,” he wrote.
“You look at that team and you know straightaway who the leader is. He hasn’t shied away from taking decisions, has been vocal and been happy to be in the eye of the storm himself. And, yes, he has bowled magnificently. If the Kings make the playoffs, with the resources they have, it will be a huge triumph for Ashwin,” he added.
Bhogle further said that Punjab have made the best of the resouces available to them. “The Kings XI Punjab have been the sleeper hit of this year’s IPL. Almost everybody had written them off before the tournament started, questions were raised, and they were valid, about the balance of the team and, truth be told, it could have been the forgotten team of the IPL. We don’t yet know if they will make the play-offs but it can pretty safely be said that no team has made as much of the resources available to it as the Kings XI has,” he said.
As an example, he cited KXIP’s win over Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, in which they managed to defend the total of 182 on a good batting surface.
“Against Rajasthan Royals, the bowling, in defence of 182 which was at best par, was hardly threatening. Mohd Shami, having an excellent tournament but possessed of an otherwise ordinary T20 record, R Ashwin who isn’t considered for white ball cricket, Murugan Ashwin, one of many leg spinners, Arshdeep Singh, hardly heard of and Mujeeb, the highly rated young Afghani who is having an average tournament. There was no sixth option to speak of. And yet, except for a few overs, they didn’t let the Royals into the game,” he said.