The legendary Sunil Gavaskar has attributed Kings XI Punjab's impressive turnaround of fortunes in the IPL to the captaincy of KL Rahul and the fighting spirit of head coach Anil Kumble. Down in the dumps after five successive losses, KXIP scripted a remarkable comeback, notching up four wins on the trot to grab the fifth place with 10 points in the IPL standings. They are in with a chance to make the playoffs with three more games to go.
"You know, they have just found the winning way! They seem to have lost that at the start of the tournament," the former India skipper said in Star Sports' show Cricket Live.
"Remember, every time they were close to winning and they went into the super over in their first-ever game and then again, after that they were losing in the final overs.
"Then, somewhere down the line, they found that key, that takes them to a win and the last few games, they have played exceptional cricket."
KXIP were simply sensational in their last game when they defended 126 for a 12-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday. "Last match, to defend a 126 takes a lot of doing, takes a lot of self-belief and that's what they showed. They have been brilliantly led by KL Rahul," Gavaskar said.
"KL Rahul has grown into the captaincy role...he made sure, with his field placing, with his bowling changes, even giving Chris Jordan that 19th over and then trusting Arshdeep (Singh) to defend 14 in the final over is fantastic."
Gavaskar also lauded the role played by head coach Kumble, who joined the franchise this season. "Do not forget the role of Anil Kumble! Anil Kumble has been a fighter all his cricketing career, you could see when he went out with a broken jaw and bowled, and that spirit is seen in the KXIP," he said referring to the 2002 Test series against the West Indies. "That is the reason why they have comeback from impossible situations and are now in the hunt for the place in the playoffs."
KXIP will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in a crucial match on Monday.