Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin urged his side to produce quality players, who can be retained as the core of the team going forward. This comes after his team’s dismal show in the latter half of IPL 2019, which saw them struggle to find the right combinations and eventually lose out on a playoffs spot merely on net run rate.

“When you finish the season like that, most definitely I feel really disappointed because we had the ability to punch well above where we ended up,” said Ashwin after KXIP ended the season with a clinical six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings on Sunday (May 5).

KXIP had won four out of their first six games, but managed to win only two in their last eight. They had a chance of pulling off a win in each of their losses barring one Sunrisers Hyderabad game, but the team was having a battle of its own, balancing form and injuries. Before the start of the season, Punjab had retained Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, David Miller and Ravichandran Ashwin. Of the nine retentions, only four – Rahul, Gayle, Agarwal and Ashwin – came up with the goods and constantly trying to find the right balance didn’t help their case.

Miller was a big let-down. He managed only one fifty in the ten games that he was part of. His failure meant the team was spineless in the middle order and they were left searching for able replacements who weren’t there. Andrew Tye too, was a huge disappointment; he played just six games, especially because he did so well last season, but didn’t look the same a year later. Ankit Rajpoot didn’t have the numbers to show, and Murugan Ashwin, whom the team picked up at the auctions bagged just five wickets in ten games. Hardus Viljoen did not contribute with anything significant and the management was forced to look beyond.

It’s never good if a retained player is forced to be dropped and it’s worse to see them being ignored in clusters. Which is precisely why Ashwin stressed on producing quality players, which is very important for a franchise to be successful. “If you look at the successful franchises, they retain their core. We really need to start producing players and have that core going forward. It’s not that you buy someone and end up winning the next day and be successful. So it’s important for us to keep adding strength to that dressing room,” Ashwin explained.

Towards the fag end of the season, KXIP figured out Sam Curran and Nicholas Pooran were great investments. While Curran was great with bat and ball on different occasions, Pooran was pretty positive with his batting in the last few games, giving them the much-needed impetus in the middle order. Arshdeep Singh showed he can swing the ball at decent pace, while Harpreet Brar played a handy cameo – against Mumbai Indians – in one of the two games he played. Ashwin, however, was upbeat about the young talent pool in the side and was positive about the team progressing in the coming years.

“I think we are well on our way to building something special. We do need lending hand from a few more players. We are very hopeful of what we have in store for us,” he concluded.


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