IPL 2019: No guarantee with Kotla pitch, says Punjab coach Mike Hesson

The Kings XI Punjab head coach admits the come-from-behind win in Mohali earlier this month gives his team encouragement to “just hang in there.”

KL Rahul and R Ashwin during a practice session at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Friday.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

The almighty batting collapse that Kings XI Punjab had engineered in Mohali on April 1 in its contest against Delhi Capitals, will still be fresh in the minds of the members of the team.

Seven wickets had fallen for eight runs as Kings XI Punjab completed a 14-run win, not long after it was staring at a defeat as Delhi Capitals needed only 23 runs from 21 deliveries with seven wickets in hand.

The two teams will face off once again, this time at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. On Friday, reflecting on that memorable win, head coach Mike Hesson said, “The fallout from the previous game is that you are never out of it. It does give confidence that if you are in the field and is in the game, it gives you that little impetus to just hang in there. I am sure the guys will remember that and of course it was a big win for us.”

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Although Capitals’ confidence would have suffered a blow with the lacklustre performance against Mumbai Indians on Thursday, the home team is a lot more settled since that contest against Kings XI.

It has secured three wins on the trot away from home since then. Kings XI, on the other hand, has lost three out of five matches.

Looking ahead to the contest on Saturday, Hesson said, “We have actually done okay away from home; we just haven’t been able to cross the line and of course, we have a very good record at home.

The surface here, you can’t guarantee how the pitch will play out but most of the games here have been pretty consistent in how they have been on the slow side and we will prepare accordingly.”

The side has some injury worries. Providing an update on some of the injured players, Hesson said, “Mujeeb [Ur Rahman] has made good progress, he is not in as much pain as before. He will train with us today and we will make a decision after that.

Moises [Henriques]’s injury will rule him out for some time and that’s unfortunate, Varun, of course, has been injured. We hope everybody will be able to make contributions later in the tournament.”

On a likely spin-friendly surface here, it may not be able to field a third spinner. “If none of [Mujeeb and C. V. Varun] play [on Saturday], it will be a big loss for us. But we have also got some other good spinners, [M.] Ashwin has filled the void of Varun and done very well for us,” Hesson said.