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Smart cricket will set a team & captain apart

With the IPL entering the penultimate stage, the fight for the title also seems to be getting fierce. Aakash Chopra writes.

india Updated: May 23, 2011 02:22 IST
Aakash Chopra

With the IPL entering the penultimate stage, the fight for the title also seems to be getting fierce. While for MS Dhoni, an IPL win would serve as the cherry on the coveted World Cup cake, Knight Riders' skipper Gautam Gambhir would be hoping to turn his team's fortunes around and consolidate his claims for captaincy.

Who will have the last laugh, is difficult to say, what is clear is that a victory will bring to the fore a superior side and a captain, who is a cut above the rest.

What is it that will set a captain and his team apart? Certainly, good cricket, but more importantly, smart cricket.

Bowling changes
Since every over is 5% of the innings, a skipper must tread cautiously before throwing the ball to a bowler because, he might just be throwing away the game too. T20 is about momentum and one over can lead to destruction. But since a bowler can bowl only four overs, bowling changes are a must.

If bowlers are radically different, it's wise to play a few balls quietly before launching an attack. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/230511/23_05_pg19b.jpg

That's where regular changes keep the batsman guessing. It doesn't allow the bowler to settle in too but that's where a smart captain chips in.

MS Dhoni plotted Kumar Sangakarra's dismissal with some astute field changes. When Sanga was comfortable hitting down the ground, he brought the fine-leg inside the circle and induced a false shot.

Using fielders at deep mid-wicket and square-leg inside the circle is another smart attacking option.

Most batsmen have learnt the art of clearing the front-leg to hit it over the short mid-wicket, which used to be a vacant area earlier.

But now with a man on the fence and square-leg inside the ring, batsmen are forced to hit it squarer.

Get the order sorted
With losses hurting a lot more and victory tasting that much sweeter in the playoffs, it's imperative for the teams to get their batting order sorted.

Dhoni may have sent Albie Morkel and Wriddhiman Saha ahead of him at times, but it is time to catch the bull by its horns.