Impact Player rule actually makes my job difficult: Hardik Pandya

By, Kolkata
Apr 01, 2023 02:02 PM IST

CSK’s bowling inflexibility was glaring but Gujarat Titans captain feels rule gives skippers ‘too many options’

The Impact Player rule might have been designed to give teams a super sub option but that it won’t always go according to plan or play to their strengths was highlighted in the 2023 IPL season opener itself on Friday.

Sai Sudharsan was Gujarat Titans' Impact Player.(AFP)
Sai Sudharsan was Gujarat Titans' Impact Player.(AFP)

On the face of it, Chennai Super Kings were able to make proper use of the rule, subbing a specialist batter in Ambati Rayudu with a specialist bowler in Tushar Deshpande. Rayudu scored a run-per-ball 12 but Deshpande ended up as their most expensive bowler, conceding 51 in 3.2 overs, leaving CSK heavily in the red. It ultimately played a huge part in their five-wicket loss to the holders.

Also Read | 'Selfish' Shivam Dube receives hate, Deshpande 'impact' irks CSK fans in GT tie

Gujarat Titans, on the other hand, were forced to replace Kane Williamson with Sai Sudharshan–a batter for a batter–after the New Zealand batter injured his knee trying to save a six and still ended up winning.

A glaring difference between the two teams was CSK’s bowling inflexibility, not even using one over of Moeen Ali’s off-spin or Shivam Dube’s medium pace. And though it looked haphazard and more reactive, Gujarat Titans used six options, slipping in three overs of Alzarri Joseph in the last seven where he took two wickets for just 15 runs.

This was the time Chennai Super Kings’ scoring rate took a particularly big hit. Having a Rashid Khan always helps, but it was the glut of options that allowed Pandya to switch to Joseph from Yash Dayal after he was hammered for two sixes in the only over he bowled.

Pandya had no hesitation in admitting that finding too many options was difficult to handle. “Having this impact rule makes my job difficult. I have too many options, and because of this someone will bowl less. This game I realised bowling hard lengths was the way to go, that's why Alzarri bowled late,” the Titans captain said after the match.

“Today was an example where we were under pressure, kept looking for wickets, kept attacking. They were going past 200 I thought at one point in time. But we were able to stop them 20-25 runs short. Alzarri coming in and using his pace and bounce was good to see,” he said.

Quick wickets were the only way CSK could have defended 178 but within the second over, Gujarat Titans had got a solid head start thanks to a 14-run over from Deshpande. “Deshpande was a little bit unlucky. We had the options but the ones we used were close but just not good enough tonight,” said CSK coach Stephen Fleming.

Titans looked good to win with a better margin but a lean phase where they could score only 11 runs losing one wicket in the death overs helped CSK inch back into the game. Rashid Khan’s late assault – a six and a four off Deepak Chahar in the 19th over – however allowed Titans to again carve a win with the help of their lower order.

"When you have Rashid Khan in your team, it gives you relief," said Pandya. "He can come and bowl and get you wickets, and at the end of the day if you need some runs he'll come and smack it and make our job easy."

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    Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years' experience writing on cricket, football and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.

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