- Kings XI Punjab are enjoying their best IPL season till date and are on course to qualify for the playoffs
- Ravi Ashwin was surprisingly named the captain of the franchise prior to the tournament but has done exceedingly well in that role
- Australian opener Aaron Finch believes that Ashwin’s calmness on the pitch comes from his time working with MS Dhoni
After 10 disappointing seasons in Indian Premier League, Kings XI Punjab are finally enjoying a lengthy spell of success in the tournament. After taking the decision to completely revamp the squad from last year, KXIP are just 2 wins away from securing their place in the playoffs, a big achievement from captain Ravichandran Ashwin, who has taken charge of a side for the first time in his career. If we were to believe Australian opener, Aaron Finch, the calmness that the Indian off-spinner exudes on the pitch comes from his time working with MS Dhoni.
Some unorthodox decisions working for KXIP this season
Many people raised their eyebrows when KXIP announced that Ravichandran Ashwin will take charge of the captaincy of KXIP this season, even though the squad had experienced international players like Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh and Aaron Finch himself. However, according to Virender Sehwag, KXIP mentor, the management wanted a bowler to lead the side this season and the decision looks to have worked brilliantly at least for this season. This wasn’t the only brilliant decision made by the franchise, the call to pick Chris Gayle up in the 3rd time of asking for just INR 2 crore is paying huge dividends as the Windies opener has scored 310 runs in 6 matches.
Speaking about Ravichandran Ashwin’s calm approach to leadership, Aaron Finch said, as reported by Cricket Next,
“I think Ashwin has been outstanding. While he hasn’t had a lot of experience of leading the side in the past, he has been a successful cricketer and has brought that to the table as a leader. He brings the group together and speaks to individuals before the game. Along with chief coach Brad Hodge, Ashwin has left no stone unturned when it comes to preparations for a game. He is very calm and that comes with playing under MS Dhoni. MSD is a cool guy and Ashwin has also been calm and made some great decisions.”
The contribution of Indian players a big factor in the success of KXIP
Over the past 10 years, KXIP have had quite a few world superstars in the squad but according to Finch, the contribution from the Indian players is what has made the difference this season for the team. He said,
“Teams who have won in the past has been those teams where the Indian players have done well. This year round, we have had some quality performance from the Indian players and hopefully, we can continue doing this. The team has also been aggressive and that I think has also helped. The batting and bowling in the powerplay has been special and highlights why we have been successful. Having experienced campaigners like Gayle, Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh has also helped as we have a good mix of youth and experience.”
Chris Gayle and KL Rahul have been the pillars on which KXIP have shaped their season but their good form on top has meant that Aaron Finch is batting lower down the order, where he hasn’t enjoyed the kind of success he has as an opener. Currently out of the KXIP playing XI, Finch believes that contribution can come from anywhere in the team and with Gayle and Rahul batting so well together at the top, his job is make a contribution from the middle-order. He said at the end,
“I think they are playing beautifully at the top and that is a huge bonus as Gayle is one of the best T20 players and Rahul has also played like one of the best. Gayle is playing injury-free and enjoying the game and that is important. They are playing beautifully and I would love the opportunity to bat at the top, but I think these guys are doing really well. Been a disappointing fact that I have not contributed, but we have been improving as a unit and the team has still done well and that is a great sign.”
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