After their first seven games of the IPL 2020, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had only one win to show for their efforts. The team, however, didn't reel from self-doubt, kept the faith and reminded themselves to avoid "panic", knowing quite a few of their losses had been close ones.
That, fielding coach Jonty Rhodes says, has been one major reason behind their turnaround, beating three of the top teams in their previous outings and suddenly gaining in momentum towards the business end of the tournament.
"The first half of the tournament we had discussed about disregarding the table position. When you play seven matches there is a long way to go," Rhodes told ANI in an interview.
"But after seven matches we sat down and while we were sitting at the bottom, considering the results and looking at the table, Mumbai and Delhi were at the top and RCB at the third position. We obviously had comfortably beaten RCB and a thriller against Delhi."
"We said there is no need to panic. We had patches of good cricket and we were generally winning 36 overs of the game and it was just the last couple of overs which we couldn't complete successfully."
"T20s are going to be about the last over or last ball. We have enough experience in our team to know that is how T20 cricket is played."
"It wasn't about panicking and looked to be consistent with the personnel. We were looking to introduce Chris Gayle earlier, but he was sick for a week. We knew all it required was finishing the batting and bowling. Needed just one game to turn it around," he added.
The other big factor that Rhodes pointed out is the calming influence of skipper KL Rahul, who stands at the top of the run-charts with 540 runs at an average of 67.50 and a strike-rate of 135.68. His run tally including one hundred and five fifties in ten innings.
"KL played a massive role. It is easy for a captain, especially someone who is performing so well, to say c'mmon everyone pull your socks up. But he has a calm presence and is not a fiery temperament," said the former South Africa cricketer.
"Even when he is batting, he doesn't work up a sweat even though he is hitting the ball over covers for a six. He is a calm personality and it is very important as a captain that you give yourself the space to be yourself."
"Being calm doesn't mean you are not concerned or you taking things slowly. He is very hardworking and very competitive. But doesn't get upset or influenced by circumstances around him.
"For the first time Rahul got fired up was in the last game against Delhi Capitals after the first six overs when we didn't put up a good display and they were looking like scoring 180-190. He just said guys we need to pull up our socks."
"And the guys responded well to him because he has been calm and consistent through the wins and losses. Players feel he has got their back. His consistency through wins and losses allows him to ask for a bigger and better performance," he added.
Rhodes also believes wicketkeeping has helped Rahul significantly. He feels Rahul is now in much better position to assess situations as a captain and can take that understanding to his batting as well.
"It certainly gives you an understanding of how the ball is coming off the surface and is an advantage," said Rhodes. "But for the first month (temperature wise), if you saw MS Dhoni, I have never seen him look stressed at the crease as he is such a fit and strong player."
"KL had to give the gloves to Pooran for a few games as he was really having to battle. We weren't winning many tosses, so we were fielding first and to field for 20 overs in that heat, and to then go straight out to bat was becoming tough for KL."
"If you are batting at four or six or seven then it is a different picture. Being behind the stumps with the spin bowlers up close, it does give you an indication of how the ball is coming onto the bat."
"AB de Villiers bats two down or three down for RCB, so he has the time for a shower or sit and relax, but KL literally has 10 minutes to change, and then he is back on the field again. An advantage yes, but in the heat sometimes a disadvantage," he concluded.