Coach Mike Hesson has his focus zeroed in on Kings XI Punjab. With the opening game of VIVO Indian Premier League round the corner, the Kiwi reports back on the Mohali camp and hints at the position Kings XI Punjab are ahead of the season.
Could you tell us how the camp at Mohali went?
I was very pleased with it. We started off with smaller numbers and then it increased with most of the overseas players joining us. By the time we got to our warm up games, we had almost everybody in. We have been talking to the support staff all the time in terms of how the players are evolving. They are all happy with the way the group is progressing. We have a good core of players, and the young ones have been impressive as well. And the likes of (batting coach) Sridharan Sriram and (bowling coach) Ryan Harris have all been very impressed with the quality.
Anyone in particular who stood out during the camp?
The most pleasing thing was that everyone was on par in making sure they got up to speed. It shows that we have a really good depth in the squad. Another pleasing thing is the quality of depth, which we were a little bit unsure of with one or two younger ones but they have certainly stepped up. The likes of Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep Singh and Prabhsimran Singh -- to name three -- were all outstanding!
Would you consider this team a little unpredictable to plan against?
I hope so! It's a fair point. When we talked about the strength of the squad, we wanted the ability to potentially provide a different line-up depending on the conditions available. So hopefully that makes it difficult for sides to scout against us in the sense how we might use players. That's certainly our strength, I agree. It's always about the balance between a side that adapts to conditions and also providing a level of continuity in terms of the role that people play. The first part of the camp was making sure that everyone is clear about the role we want them to play. It's then up to management to decide what we think which side fits the field.
Would you consider KXIP as the underdogs, favourites or somewhere in between for this season?
It's always great to feel you're the underdog but I don't think we are in any way. We are a side that has a lot of skill but we also know that the quality of the opposition is very good as well. We are also a side that won't think too far ahead in terms of how we are perceived by others. It's about what we do, from within, that will be our focus rather than thinking whether we are underdogs or favourites, which is irrelevant.
How has Mohali treated you so far?
Really good! The ground staff has been excellent. They have been providing us quality surfaces to train on and for practice games. The outfield is as good as it gets. Been very fortunate that the ground staff has been great. And also around the place, we have done a couple of team activities and have generally enjoyed Mohali and Chandigarh.
Any Punjabi that you have learned already?
Sat Sri Akaal. And I have learned a few more, plenty! Part of coaching any team is actually is embracing the culture and the environment around and that's something I am really looking forward to. Eventually by the time I leave I would have ingrain more about Punjabis and the team that we represent.