Eleven players step out on the field in a cricket match and it is their job to bring their side to victory. But behind the scenes, sitting in the pavilion and leading the training sessions, are a number of people who have a bearing on the result as well.
They help the players sort out their niggles and keep fit. They assist them in ensuring their technique and their concentration doesn’t waiver. In the middle of a match, they see the overall picture better than the players who are caught up in their on-field struggles.
Between two equally matched teams, the coaching staff can be a crucial difference. IPL 2017 is a long competition, with each team playing at least 14 matches in less than two months, and the players can easily lose focus.
Here’s a look at the men who stand behind the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) players, ready to support them through the tough battle that lies ahead.
#1 Virender Sehwag continues as team mentor
Sehwag was named the mentor of the KXIP team last year and has also ascended to the role of heading the franchise’s cricket Operations and Strategy for 2017. To anyone who has followed Indian cricket even casually in the past, Sehwag needs no introduction.
An attacking batsmen for the Indian team, Sehwag was known for his explosive strike rate. His whack-every-ball style would have been perfect for T20, but he was past his prime by the time the Indian Premier League was formed and his record at the annual tournament was inconsistent before he retired.
Still, no one can doubt that his tips will be handy for his team. The Mohali-based franchise has been one of the worst-performing outfits in the tournament, finishing regularly in the bottom half and, in fact, was handed the wooden spoon for the past two years.
Sehwag would want to turn that record around in IPL 2017. If he doesn’t, the fans might start wondering whether he is the team’s unlucky mascot.
#2 Jagadeesh Arunkumar takes over as batting coach
Sanjay Bangar put in his papers as the team’s coach last November and J Arunkumar, Sehwag’s former team-mate at Indian Airlines, has been roped into the role after the Nawab of Najafgarh decided against a full-time coaching role.
Arunkumar is a well-known name in the domestic coaching circles in India. He is a former Karnataka batsman and has scored more than 7000 runs in first-class cricket. However, he is most renowned for coaching the state team to all three titles – Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Cup – in both 2014 and 2015.
KL Rahul has perfected his craft under his stewardship and his involvement with KXIP will be a blessing for the franchise’s young players as they can benefit form his tutelage.
#3 J&K all-rounder Mithun Manhas becomes the assistant coach
Manhas was a regular name in the Delhi middle order in the first decade of the millennium and currently plays for the Jammu and Kashmir team, with a healthy first-class average of 45.82 in the Indian domestic circuit and almost ten thousand runs.
Followers of previous editions of the IPL may recognise him as well. He played for the Delhi Daredevils in the first three editions, moved on to the Pune Warriors before finally ending his IPL career with the Chennai Super Kings in 2014.
His experience with the tournament will undoubtedly help him support Arunkumar better. Given that he has shared the dressing room with some of the current players in opposition teams, he may have specific tidbits to help the KXIP squad plan its strategy as well.
#4 Ramakrishnan Sridhar continues as KXIP’s fielding coach
Sridhar has been with the franchise since 2014, when he first joined as the team’s fielding coach. His cricketing career spanned 12 years and he played as left-arm spinner for Hyderabad.
He embarked on a coaching career in 2001. Since then, he has worked with the Indian Under-19 squad in the past and has regularly helped the senior team as its fielding coach as well.
Sridhar is known to set high fielding standards both in the infield as well as the outfield. He is quick to recognise the positions suitable for a particular player and his experience would come in handy for Kings XI Punjab.
#5 Fitness team is overhauled for IPL10
Amit Tyagi and Manoj Kumar are joining KXIP this year as the team’s physiotherapist and yoga instructor respectively. If the team is to fulfil its ambitions of winning the title, it is important that the players are fit, both physically and mentally, when it comes to the business end of the tournament.
The burden on ensuring the squad stays rejuvenated falls in Tyagi’s and Kumar’s shoulders. They will be joining Nishant Thakur, who has helped the players in previous years with strength and conditioning. Naresh Kumar remains the team masseur.
The team management is intentionally choosing an all-Indian support team, a decision that is helping benefits of the IPL to trickle down further into the nation’s cricketing eco-system.