Some defeats hurt more than others and Kings XI Punjab suffered the most painful of its four losses so far in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday night. The self-inflicted 31-run reverse against a struggling Rajasthan Royals left skipper Kumar Sangakkara taking a much harder look at the casual manner in which some of the players have been performing so far.
Yuvraj Singh, who was made to hand over the reigns to Sangakkara at the start of the competition, has been the biggest disappointment for the team struggling with injuries and non-availability of some of its leading players.
The talented left-hander may have put the finishing touches to Punjab’s lone victory – in the Super Over against Chennai Super Kings – but continues to appear a pale shadow of himself.
Recovering from a torn ligament of his left wrist, Yuvraj is obviously careful not to aggravate the injury. But Yuvraj’s circumspect ways, seen clearly against Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals, have cost the batsman and the team dearly.
The way he has been tossing away his wicket, Punjab dressing room is obviously worried. On Wednesday, Sangakkara was asked if the loss of captaincy had anything to do with the almost disinterested ways of Yuvraj, the Sri Lankan firmly said that it was a question for the Indian to answer but added that some players in the team needed to perform with “responsibility” and “take pride” in what they do on the field.
If Punjab intends to stay in contention for a place in the semifinals, it needs to win at least seven out of the remaining nine games. For that to happen, Sangakkara will have to take some tough decisions.
With Shaun Marsh and Brett Lee available, Sangakkara will be tempted to induct them in the playing eleven. Ravi Bopara's good form means Marsh can only replace Mahela Jayawardene. Similarly, Lee can step in for Juan Theron, who has looked impressive in the two games he has played.
In the pace department, Sangakkara is looking increasingly helpless with S. Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan and Shalabh Srivastav repeatedly failing to bowl to their field.
Sangakkara’s men face Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday and only a disciplined performance will help them stay afloat.