As teams search for momentum, it’s all about trial and error early in IPL 2018
It is still early days in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 and all the eight teams are trying to find a foothold in the competition with a little bit of trial and errorcricket Updated: Apr 17, 2018 09:06 IST
Ten days into the IPL, how do the teams line up? These are early days and it is too early to call but as they stand no team appears dominant. Hyderabad is ahead with 3/3, defending champs Mumbai at the bottom with 0/3.
A coach broke down team strategy during the IPL. It is simple, he said: The IPL is a marathon because each team plays 14 matches over 6 weeks. So it must have endurance and energy and think long term, not just what just round the corner. The IPL is also a sprint to make the play-offs. Successful teams need two things - stamina of Mo Farah and the explosive speed of Usain Bolt.
In the initial phase, teams set themselves short term goals. The journey from base camp to summit is long but the first target is to win 8 games, the magic number to make the cut for the playoffs. The trick therefore is to play ball by ball, one game at a time and not get too far ahead .
To get there, teams search for momentum, the happy but elusive feeling of getting off to a good start and staying ahead. Just as a sound opening partnership is crucial for scoring big, wins in initial matches lift spirits, boost confidence and spread fear among competing teams.
Early momentum is a terrific pickup but early losses are a crippling viral. Defeat erodes confidence and teams that fall behind find themselves in a tough catch up mode. With every match turning out to be must-win, there is little room for a stumble. Teams understand that in a long tournament a bad day will come when things go horribly wrong. Which is another reason why it’s necessary to buy insurance upfront and bolt from the blocks.
For that to happen, several pieces have to fall into place. Finding the right balance is crucial. Given the four-foreign player rule, it is never easy to decide which high quality/ high cost asset to bench. This season Chris Gayle has sat out games, a sad decline for the ‘universe boss’ but also a comment on the selection challenges of the IPL.
Finding the right slots for batsmen/bowlers is another issue to be addressed. Pushing Sunil Narine to the top of the order is inspirational. There must also be serious thought behind dropping Rahul Tripathy — so impressive as an opener — to the middle order. Each team faces these challenges: MS Dhoni as finisher or at number 4? Kieran Pollard and Andre Russell should be released early or held back till late? Should Washington Sundar, K Gowtham or Shahbaz Nadeem bowl in the powerplay? How about Vinay Kumar or Umesh Yadav as death bowler? As teams search for momentum in the initial phase of the IPL, it’s all about trial and error.
(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by author in this article are personal.