IPL 2013: Shaun Marsh's return may solve Kings XI Punjab's batting woes

In Shaun Marsh, Kings XI Punjab have a solid player who also has the ability to score quickly © PTI

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

The Indian Premier League (IPL), 2013 has been a tough ride for the Kings XI Punjab and the Pune Warriors India. Both sides are struggling to find their rhythm, and batting inconsistencies have marred their season so far. It is in this backdrop that the two sides face-off at Mohali on Sunday  — eying an escape route from the vicious cycle.

Punjab started off in fine style as the pulverised Pune in their opening game this season. The bowlers were spot on and gave nothing away and the batsmen finished it off clinically. Since then, their batting has faltered — failing to put runs on the board. The unique blend of youth and experience that promised a lot during the previous season is yet to rekindle its magic.

At the end of five games, David Hussey is the only Punjab batsman who averages over 30. The ever-dependable figure has had a decent time in his accustomed role in the middle-order. Manpreet Gony, the fast-bowler is second only the list with an average of 21. Here are Punjab’s totals batting first this season: 138, 124, 157 and 123.

The scores reflect the fact that their batting has failed miserably. Their only decent total this season i.e. 157 came in a victorious cause, but they only got there due to a brilliant counter-attacking cameo by Gony. Even during that innings, they exhibited the frailties that have haunted them during this season.

At the age of 41, Adam Gilchrist is way past his prime. Brushing aside murmurs of the IPL 2012 being his last, he has returned to grace the league yet again. He has spent a considerable time away from the field of play and that has done him no good coming into IPL 2013. In five games, he has crossed 20 only once and that isn’t something one expects from a player of his stature. However, he looked good in the last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. As the explosive opener, Gilchrist has to get his team off to rollicking starts and provide the base for the batsmen to follow. If he can get those quick 20s or 30s, he would have done the job expected of him. Mandeep Singh, Punjab’s star performer from the previous season may have to play more of a waiting game with Gilchrist taking the attack. They need some solidity at one end and Mandeep has the technique for it.

The good news for Punjab is that Shaun Marsh has joined the camp and may be available for the game against Pune. In previous seasons, his addition has made a difference to Punjab’s side as it has given them a solid player who also has the ability to score quickly. The talented David Miller may have to wait for his opportunities with the arrival of Marsh. Punjab have to find a spot for Marsh in the line-up as it might be the catalyst to their revival.

Manan Vohra and Gurkeerat Singh Mann are promising players, but haven’t done anything of note yet. As discussed in a previous article, these youngsters are crucial to Punjab’s success as the domestic talents often make the difference between the victors and the vanquished at the IPL.

Coming to Pune, their batting woes have been baffling. During their two victories, the line-up looked solid — with the punch to finish the job. In defeat, the same setup has looked absolutely clueless. Hyderabad got the better of them twice as Pune panicked while chasing modest totals. Their latest defeat at their home ground was shocking as they squandered the early advantage and lost from a position where victory was the most possible conclusion. Angelo Mathews has to take more responsibility and justify his role in the side. On the other hand, they would hope for Yuvraj Singh’s fitness as his inclusion alters the balance of the team.

The last time these two sides clashed, Punjab steamrolled Pune into submission. Pune would be eying payback and might fancy their chances given Punjab’s poor run. The only things that stop them are their own troubles. To expect a high-scoring thriller may be asking too much though.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/nishad_44)