Disappointed they might be with the outcome of their campaign in UAE but Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) owners seem satisfied with their head coach and the team captain after reports emerge that Anil Kumble and KL Rahul are likely to be retained at their positions for IPL 2021.
While KXIP failed to make it through to the playoffs this season, winning just 6 of their 14 matches, a team source told PTI, the franchise is overall pleased with the efforts made by Rahul and Kumble to improve the side.
“The owners are happy with captain and coach. Rahul was exceptional with the bat and team scripted a remarkable comeback in the second half of the season. Had that short run not being called in the first game (against DC), the team would have been in play-offs," the source said.
"The good thing is a core group has been identified. Gaps need to be plugged in the middle-order where the team needs a power hitter and also a world class fast bowler to support Shami."
KXIP embodied Kumble's renowned fighting spirit in turning around their tournament with a five-match winning streak in the back half and falling just one more win short of making it through.
Rahul, on the other hand, led his team from the front, ending at the top of the run-charts for the league with 670 runs at an average of 55.83 and strike-rate of 129.34.
Not known for having a settled unit up their sleeves, KXIP seem to have found a core group they can trust. The likes of Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Mohammad Shami, Ravi Bishnoi and Arshdeep Singh should be seen in their first-choice line-up in April next year.
However, issues around their middle-order and death-bowling remain and this is where KXIP are set to release Glenn Maxwell and Sheldon Cottrell after this season. The Australian right-hander and left-arm seamer from the Caribbean, both failed to make their opportunities count, leaving KXIP a lot of ground to cover in key areas of the game. A call in this regard can be taken at the team's review meeting.
"Their performance was not on expected lines and it will be tough to continue with them," the source said.
Much is also dependent on the sort of auction that takes place in the coming weeks, if at all BCCI organises one. KXIP would love to go into a mini-auction and plug their gaps.