PUNE: In cricket, the term “second season” holds a lot of a importance. When a rookie does well in his maiden season, the focus is more and more in the second season. Its ditto for teams as well as the opponents are well aware of your characters and know what to do to tie them up. In a tournament like IPL, teams have consistently tweaked their strategies in off-season and in auctions and thereby have added new dimensions to their squads to keep the ball moving. You keep evolving with the time or be ready to be stagnated.
Kings XI Punjab drew a lot of praise last season for doing their homework before the season and for assembling a side that genuinely looked like contenders. Other teams were left stunned and Punjab used their surprise element to great advantage. They had an X-factor in them. Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, David Miller and Mitchell Johnson made the nucleus of the side. Once they figured that the opposition feared them, they strangled them. But the only big name signing they did in the auction was that of Murali Vijay. They went in for their tried and tested players and believed they still had the edge.
How wrong. Having inserted to bat by Kolkata Knight Riders here, their famed batting line-up barring Bailey (60, 45b, 5x4, 2x6) once again failed in front of a partisan crowd. Kolkata arrived with a plan – don’t give any room to the batsmen, tie them up by bowling into their body, and make them go for the shots. Gautam Gambhir led his troops well as he kept shuffling the attack. Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha and Virender Sehwag all departed early as Maxwell and Bailey were in the middle inside the powerplay overs. They consolidated by going for the shots early on, and gradually tried to build a partnership by rotating the strike. But the 63-run partnership was brought to a halt by Andre Russell’s effort at sweeper cover as he ran a few yards in to pouch Maxwell for 33. Thisara Perera did little damage before dismissed and it was Bailey who stood tall once again.
He waged a lonely battle, going for the odd boundaries and a couple of sixes, but there was little support from anyone at the other end. By the time he was run-out in the final over for 60, he gave his bowlers something to bowl at as Punjab finished at 155/9 in 20 overs.