Not many, who own India’s T20 League franchises or are involved in its affairs, would have seen last year’s Hollywood blockbuster Moneyball. For, the cash-rich league has a different way of running the teams than shown in the movie.
Moneyball, based on a true story, starred Brad Pitt as general manager of the failing Oakland Athletics baseball team. He is unable to afford star players due to limited financial resources. With the help of a stats-wiz, he builds a team of players undervalued by everyone else.
The Rajasthan Royals have the ‘Moneyball way’ of strategising things. The franchise firmly believes in the metaphor that a winning team isn’t necessarily made up of individual stars but is a combination of certain talents who together add up and make victory possible.
That mantra worked for Royals in the very first season, when they defied all odds to win the title. Since then, they have been one of the most consistent, if not intimidating, teams in the tournament. They have never believed in splurging in players’ auction. This year too, the Royals, under Rahul Dravid’s stewardship, have punched above their weight. They are currently on top of the points table with four victories from five matches and it would be fair to say that they have exceeded expectations.
Sense of mismatch
As they go into Saturday’s game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, there is a sense of mismatch between the two teams.
RCB, who also have eight points but are in second place having played a game more than the Royals, are a team filled with stars. In skipper Virat Kohli they have an aggressive, confident young man who has immense self belief and they also possess the proven belligerence of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.
The Royals in comparison do not look all that exciting. While Dravid has retired from international cricket and is well past his prime, the rest of the squad is filled up with players who are yet to break into the international league.
All-rounder Shane Watson is an exception but he has not played a big role in Royals’ impressive start to the season.
Much of the credit should go Dravid's tactical nous. He’s not shied away from dropping himself down the order when required and his aggressive and innovative captaincy has also allowed his players to play with freedom.