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New IPL skippers facing steep learning curve

What would you do as a skipper at a point, when the game has gone down to the wire with just three overs remaining, and your best bowlers — R.P Singh, Sreesanth & Vinay Kumar are left with an over each to bowl?

india Updated: Apr 13, 2011 00:35 IST
Aakash Chopra

What would you do as a skipper at a point, when the game has gone down to the wire with just three overs remaining, and your best bowlers — R.P Singh, Sreesanth & Vinay Kumar are left with an over each to bowl?

Of course, you'd consider yourself blessed while making that unambiguous decision, of consuming the remaining three overs between those senior men.

Bad choices made
Bowling second is as much about skills as it is about having the nerves of steel at the end. Quite tactlessly though, Mahela, in the opening match for Kochi, threw the ball to Gomez, a rookie and De Villiers sealed the match in 6 balls.

Royal Challengers Bangalore needed 32 runs in the last three overs but the target was reduced to a run-a-ball off the last two post Gomez's over.

I'm not trying to run down the youngster for getting the stick but debating the wisdom behind the decision to give him the ball. I would have understood the merit of such a risk had Gomez bowled a few good overs in the match, but the 18th over was his first. It may have been an instinctive decision to spring a surprise but isn't it imperative to know your players' strengths and weaknesses?

New captains getting to grips
Mahela had flown in on the morning of the match and had little knowledge of his personnel, especially the uncapped Indian recruits.

Since he didn't know the team like the back of his hand, he perhaps went by what the coach told him. While it's okay to take inputs from the coach, T20 cricket dictates the skipper to be thinking on his feet and take quick decisions.

It's not just Mahela who messed up; his counterpart Vettori also did something similar. He gave young Asad Pathan two overs when he hadn't bowled even a single in the domestic T20 competition for his side, The Railways.

The problem is simple — the captains have joined their respective teams in the eleventh hour and have had no time to know their players. They are relying heavily on inputs from the coaching staff, which may or may not be a 100% reliable all the time. While the format allows you to make a few mistakes and gives you the time to learn from them, losing can become a habit and, at times, a tough one to get rid of.

Stable teams have the edge
Teams who have retained the core from the earlier seasons are getting a head-start, since they only have to invest time in planning and not in knowing their players well. While Tendulkar and Dhoni would be working out plans for their oppositions, Sangakarra, Vettori and Mahela would be busy getting to know their own players.