IPL 2018: A tale of two halves for Kings XI Punjab and Chris Gayle

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Chris Gayle's loss of form hurt Kings XI Punjab badly. Image - IPL/Twitter.

When Chennai Super Kings crossed the 100-run mark in their chase of 153 against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, the latter’s IPL playoff dreams were shattered once and for all.

For much of the season, that scenario was never a possibility given the electric start made by Kings XI. It has simply been a case of two halves for Ravichandran Ashwin’s men, as they ultimately ended the season in lowly seventh spot.

The franchise took the league by storm in the first-half with five victories from their first six matches. They ended it with seven defeats in their final eight games in a dramatic turnaround which included a run of five consecutive defeats culminating in the loss to Chennai.

Here, we look at the three main reasons for Punjab’s late horror show.

GAYLE’S FORM COINCIDES WITH KINGS XI’S

Much of Punjab’s early success in the IPL was built on the opening partnership between KL Rahul and Chris Gayle. The towering Jamaican sat out the side’s opening two matches but took no time in announcing himself in style as he smashed an explosive fifty on his franchise debut. He followed that up with an unbeaten ton against the Sunrisers Hyderabad before smashing fifties against Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians.

Since then, Gayle only scored 66 runs combined in his six subsequent innings with 21 being his highest score. That the side went on to lose five of those matches shows how Kings XI’s form has coincided with that of Gayle with the 38-year-old’s loss in form spelling trouble for the side.

MIDDLE-ORDER WOES

While their dependence on Rahul and Gayle kept increasing with each passing game, the middle-order at Ashwin’s disposal was found wanting whenever called upon. Karun Nair’s half-centuries against Delhi Daredevils in the opening game and Chennai in the final game were the only 50-plus scores registered by any Kings XI middle-order batsmen in this year’s IPL.

That damning statistic has exposed the major drawback for the side throughout their campaign with middle-order collapses after the fall of the openers being a common theme.

Apart from Nair in patches, none of Aaron Finch, Mayank Agarwal, Yuvraj Singh or Manoj Tiwary were able to put in any meaningful contributions which hurt the side badly.

MOVE FROM MOHALI TO INDORE BACKFIRES

The Kings XI played their first three home matches of the season in their traditional setting at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium in Mohali. For reasons known only to the franchise, the Holkar Stadium in Indore was chosen to host the side’s remaining four home games.

At Mohali, Ashwin’s men were unstoppable as they won three out of three matches. The long boundaries had assisted their strong spin contingent tremendously. The move to Indore was a poor one with the side succumbing to three defeats in the four matches played at the venue. To lose the shield of their ‘home fortress’ came back to bite the Kings XI big time with Indore’s short boundaries and batting friendly conditions neutralising their main weapon of spin.

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