Kolkata, April 12 (IANS) Kings XI Punjab wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha on Wednesday said the free atmosphere in the dressing room has helped the team start this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with two wins on the trot, comparing the current campaign to the 2014 one where they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the final.
Kings XI, who finished rock-bottom last time, registered victories against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first two matches of their campaign in this year’s IPL. They will take on KKR in their third match here on Thursday.
In 2014, the Preity Zinta co-owned team had got off to a flying start in Dubai, where the tournament was playing initially due to Lok Sabha elections here. Kings XI registered five wins on the trot that year.
“No doubt he (Glenn Maxwell) is an aggressive player as we have seen,” Saha said of his skipper.
“Viru (Virender Sehwag) bhai has told us to play freely. So that is an added advantage for us and it was on show in the past two matches. We sealed the ties by the 15-16th over. So it is overall better for the team.”
Kings XI won their last two matches while chasing. While in the first match against Rising Pune Supergiant, they gunned down a target of 164 with one over in hand, against Royal Challengers Bangalore, a modest score of 149 was chased with 33 balls to spare.
“When we played in Dubai. Initially in the first few matches we played with an open mind. We carried forward that momentum and we reached the final. We are trying the same thing this year,” the local lad who scored a brilliant unbeaten 115 off just 55 balls in the 2014 IPL final, said.
Saha also felt that the unavailability of in-form KKR batsman Chris Lynn coupled with the fact that suspended all-rounder Andre Russell is not taking part in this edition is an advantage for Kings XI going into Thursday’s encounter.
Lynn aggravated an old injury in his left shoulder during KKR’s four-wicket loss against Mumbai Indians.
The big hitting Australian had become IPL’s latest batting sensation after his unbeaten 93-run innings off 41 balls in a record 184-run opening stand with skipper Gautam Gambhir (76 from 48) handed KKR a 10-wicket win over Gujarat Lions in the opening match of their campaign.
Lynn had undergone surgery on the same shoulder in 2014 and the injury returned to haunt him, throwing his IPL campaign into disarray even as an official word on his availability was still awaited.
“He has played well in the last two matches for KKR. If he doesn’t play it will be an advantage for us as he is a set batsman. Nonetheless, we have to plan for everyone,” Saha told reporters on the eve of the game here.
Russell on the other hand, was banned for a one year period in January for violating the whereabouts clause of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).
“Always when an opponent is not playing well or has been taken for runs in the previous game, it is an advantage for us. We would always want to capitalise on those things both in terms of batting and bowling,” Saha opined.
Saha said that Punjab’s batting line-up is flexible and there is no fixed order.
“Our batting line-up is flexible. Anyone can come anytime depending on the situation. If we lose a wicket in the first six overs, maybe I’ll come in. If we don’t, maybe someone else,” he said.
“It also depends on how the bowler is bowling and the pattern of play. If a left-arm spinner is bowling Axar Patel is being sent sometimes. We don’t have a batting order.”
On a different note, when quizzed about his relationship with Maxwell after a heated India-Australia series which was marred by on-field sledging and off-field drama and acrimony, Saha said: “When we play the IPL we don’t keep that in our heads. We have not spoken about it and are playing as a team.”