Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia on Thursday said that hard-hitting West Indies opener Chris Gayle has done enough to play every game of the next IPL. The KXIP think tank surprised many when Gayle did not feature in their playing XI at the start of IPL 2020. It took seven matches for KXIP to bring Gayle in their playing XI and by that time the damage was already done. They lost six out of their first seven games.
Gayle was not picked for the first five games and food poisoning ruled him out for the next two. He scored solid 53 in his first game of IPL 2020 against RCB and eventually ended up with 288 runs at 41.14 including a 99.
“The team management did what it thought was best for the team. It is important to back experienced players and Gayle has demonstrated that he should play every game next season,” Wadia told PTI.
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Gayle’s inclusion in the side also brought KXIP back to winning ways as they won five in a row to spice-up the points table.
The Rahul-led side needed to win its last league game against Chennai Super Kings to reach the top-four but it couldn’t.
Looking back at the recently-concluded season, Wadia said the umpiring error to call a short-run when it wasn’t, cost the team a play-off berth though it did not show the required consistency in the first year under captain and coach combine of Rahul and Kumble.
“It is bizarre. The rules need to be updated. Today it is KXIP, tomorrow it could be other teams,” he said.
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Talking about the future under Kumble and Rahul, Wadia said: “We have a charted a three-year strategy with Anil. We revamped this season and finished sixth and lost (the play-off spot) only by one game.
“K L has been with us for three years and there was a reason why we went after him so aggressively. He has proved us right,” he said, referring to the tournament’s highest-run getter.
“It is tough for the top order when your middle order is not performing. The good thing is that we have an established core now (Rahul, Agarwal, Pooran, Gayle and Shami) and we need to plug the gaps which are quite apparent (middle-order and death bowling).”
Speaking about KXIP’s plans for next season, Wadia said they would look to plug the gaps in the middleorder and the bowling department.
“It is a new captain, new team with a lot of fresh faces, sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t. The auction is coming up soon and we would be looking to plug the gaps in the middle-order and our bowling,” Wadia told PTI.
“The international players did not perform to the expected level,” he said referring to the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Sheldon Cottrell, for whom KXIP paid big money at last year’s auction.
On the speculation surrounding a ninth team for the next season, Wadia said it showed the ever-increasing interest in the world’s biggest T20 league and he would welcome the addition as long as it doesn’t hit existing teams financially.
(With PTI inputs)