While the Preity Zinta-owned Kings XI Punjab gear up for their first-ever IPL final, they have among their ranks, an Australian who had walked out to a similar pressure situation and excitement last year. Mitchell Johnson, who was snapped up by the Kings XI Punjab in the player auctions represented the Mumbai Indians in last year's edition when the Rohit Sharma-led franchise won the IPL and the Champions League T20. (IPL 2014: The Veer-Zaara of a Final)
Talking about the chance of winning two titles in two years, Mitchell Johnson told iplt20.com, "It's amazing. It seems I have got my timing of joining the IPL right! This is the same as last year, for a different team. Hopefully, my team can once again get over the line this time." (Robin Uthappa Eyes Chris Gayle's Record)
Talking further about Kings XI Punjab's campaign this year, he said, "Everyone was pretty disappointed after the first Qualifier against KKR. But throughout the tournament every time we have lost a game, we've bounced back really well. And we did it again today. A lot of young guys in the team have done exceptionally well. One of the old boys did the same today (Friday) as well - Virender Sehwag coming and scoring an unbelievable hundred." (Don't Dare Me Ever, Says Virender Sehwag)
The credit for Kings XI Punjab's success story this year will go to their astute coach Sanjay Bangar. Talking about his experience of working with Bangar, Johnson said, " I spoke to Sanjay (Bangar) before the tournament and he was pumped up to take on this new role. He spoke to Darren Lehmann before the IPL as well. He's been amazing - calm and very switched on all the time. He knows the game so well and he's really good with all the tactical stuff like sending different guys out to bat at different times." (Umesh Yadav Attributes Success to Wasim Akram)
"He has been on the point with everything - he's upfront and honest. He's probably blown me away a bit as I wasn't completely sure of what to expect when I came to KXIP. But I developed a liking for him straightaway. He is a very good person off the field as well, which is always good in a coach. Hopefully, I was able to give him some useful insight from my understanding of the game as well," he added.
Talking about the big final and the prospect of playing at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium, Johnson said, " All the boys are pretty chuffed right now and they should be. But we still have one more game left to win. The Bangalore ground is a small one, but the wicket can sometimes be good for fast bowlers. We'll just give our best, and whatever the result, we'll walk off proud as a team."
When the teams take the field on Sunday, all will be at stake for both sides chasing glory -- Kolkata their second title in three years and Punjab their first. Whether Johnson can round off Kings XI Punjab's dream season with a title win and make it two in a row will be something to watch out for.