This is where it all gets interesting. As captain, and like all other captains with the happy ‘problem’ of a full strength side, I have to sit down with my team management and figure out a tricky question. Who gets to play our middle of the tournament game against Chennai on their home turf on Wednesday?
It’s not easy, given that we have only 11 spots available and a maximum of four for foreign players. The fact that we’re playing a day game in hot, humid Chennai will be taken into account — whoever’s out there, will be battling the elements as well as the opposition.
Cameron White was already here, but KP (Kevin Pietersen) joined us on Monday and Ross Taylor joins us soon. Which means once he’s there, we’ll have a full house. This is where planning and strategising come in. But our final team, however, depends on the pitch. We’ll take a look at the conditions and then assess matters. For instance, if you believe, say, that both White and KP are required, you fit them in. If you believe that only one out of the four fits in, you bring in one player. Like Collingwood for the Daredevils on Monday night, whoever comes in is a big impact player and can change the course of the game. So that’s the positive.
It’s tough to leave out people, but only 11 can play. A spinner might play ahead of a fast bowler, if the conditions suit spinners. Similarly, a batsman might have to go ahead and keep wickets, if you have to leave out a keeper to make room for that extra spot.
That’s the thing with the format of the IPL. There’s no way you’re going to have the same XI play all 14-16 games. It’s just not possible. What the team management then tries to do is simple — go with the gut and go for it. But here’s the rider. For all the planning ahead and gut feeling involved, the bottom-line is still this — you need to execute all those plans. The best strategy and will in the world is going to get you nowhere unless you have the wherewithal to go through with what you have thought out.
Meanwhile, everybody’s looking forward to the game and starting off our second leg on a happy note. During our break, Chennai lost two games, so this game becomes vital for them. As for us, we’ll be looking to deny them those two points they desperately need.