As in 2015, Kings XI Punjab failed to set the field on fire with their performances in the Indian Premier League. A timid auction strategy was followed by inconsistent team selections, misfiring foreign players and off-field controversies that all led to a season of modest performances.
If there’s been one bright spot, however, it has been the manner in which Murali Vijay has taken over a sinking ship and rejuvenated it with his leadership.
Vijay, who wasn’t a permanent fixture in the KXIP lineup until last year, is the team’s highest run-maker this season and has been instrumental in bringing about a marked change in the way the team has played ever since taking up the captaincy from David Miller halfway through the season
In a joint interview with Sport360.com and Times of India, Vijay opened up about what went wrong this year, his personal form, captaincy and the way forward for his team.
How has it been taking up captaincy mid-season and bringing about a change in the attitude and morale of the team?
I was ready for it. It was the team management’s call obviously and I was ready for it. The team was in a good space, all we needed to do was work on the small aspects of our game and try to figure out a solution to get the results. That’s what we did.
We have been playing good cricket, I will say that we failed collectively. As individuals, sure there were performances. If in the first half of the season we had won a couple of games, we would have definitely been in a better position.
Apart from the ifs and buts, there are lot of positives to take from this season, hopefully, we can finish the remaining two games and end on a high note.
Was it because of the lack of consistency in your team or was it the patchy form of your overseas batsmen that affected your results the most?
It’s a team game, so we shouldn’t pinpoint individuals. As a collective batting unit, we failed to click. At an individual level, there were performances from Shaun Marsh, I was there as well. But then again, I couldn’t convert those 40s into 70s, so that didn’t turn up well for the team.
We all know that David [Miller] and Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] are quality players and if they could have contributed with the bat that could have been great for us in the initial part of the tournament.
Going through bad patches happens in a cricketer’s career, but what is more pleasing is that as a group we were really tight. It’s very difficult to feel positive when going through losses, but that feeling was always there in the team. As a result, when I took over captaincy it was easier for me to put forward what I needed from the boys, and they were ready to do it.
This is your first assignment as an IPL captain, could you tell us how you approach captaincy?
Captaincy is about man management, and the IPL is something that has come naturally to me, I haven’t had to work on it a lot. It’s worked out pretty well for me as the boys have taken to my captaincy in a nice way.
As professional cricketers we know what we need to do when the team is not doing well. Everybody is up for doing what is the best for the team to produce results.
You’ve been in great form with the bat this season, did you have it in the back of your mind that the team for Zimbabwe’s limited overs tour will be selected soon?
For all the tournaments I am a part of, I play to do well and things like selection can take care of itself. IPL has given me the platform to rub shoulders with some of the greats of this game and that in itself is an unbelievable experience. I am constantly learning that way. This year, the IPL has been more competitive and it’s good to see such things.
Selection is not my criteria. At the moment I am not looking at my selection because I know where I stand – as long as I can enjoy the cricket I will be more than happy.
What has your interactions been like with Virender Sehwag this season, has he had some influence on your game?
I have had chats with him, but there’s nothing specific that I worked on my batting with his help. I am really liking the way I am batting at the moment, and hope to carry on this way.