IPL 2024: Data useful but captain is the on-field boss, says KKR head coach Chandrakant Pandit | Crickit
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IPL 2024: Data useful but captain is the on-field boss, says KKR head coach Chandrakant Pandit

By, Mumbai
May 29, 2024 10:57 PM IST

Head coach of IPL 2024 champions KKR also talks about how he can tweak his coaching style after the experience.

One of the enduring debates in T20 cricket is on data – its understanding and how much to use. Between Kolkata Knight Riders head coach Chandrakant Pandit, mentor Gautam Gambhir and analyst Nathan Leamon, each belonged to a different school of thought. So, how did KKR marry their views during their victorious campaign?

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Shreyas Iyer, coach Chandrakant Pandit and mentor Gautam Gambhir during a practice session(PTI)
Kolkata Knight Riders captain Shreyas Iyer, coach Chandrakant Pandit and mentor Gautam Gambhir during a practice session(PTI)

Gambhir recently said on R Ashwin’s talk show that he has “never believed in data”. Leamon has worked with the England cricket team for many years, and his coded signals from the dressing room balcony to provide tips to captains on using matchups had made headlines. KKR used this method actively when Brendon McCullum was the head coach, but it hasn’t been seen for the past two years.

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Without going into details on the strategy shift, Pandit, who took over the KKR post ahead of the 2023 season, said he believed data had its value, but the captain should be the final authority during play. “Data is useful. You can look at bowling charts, study patterns of bowling. It gives you an idea if you need to correct strategy on which deliveries and lengths to bowl during which phase of the game and in which conditions,” Pandit said. “But on field, the captain has the right to back his instincts.”

He was asked about pacer Vaibhav Arora being used for his third successive powerplay over in the final where he was taken for 17 runs by Aiden Markram. It did not open up the match for Sunrisers Hyderabad, but it could have. SRH were shot out for 113 and KKR won by eight wickets.

“It’s the spontaneous decision of the captain. And all of us felt it was the right decision because the ball was moving. Vaibhav being a little inexperienced, he felt the pressure after one bad ball, but that can happen. It’s easy to say from the outside that you go with another plan. But even that can cost you runs.”

Pandit said the take on data differed from player to player; how to use it was part of the challenges of coaching. “Data may be helpful for five guys in the team, but may not be for ten other guys. We don’t spend hours on it. It’s not rocket science. It’s still how you bowl on the 22 yards...the bowlers have known about the 6-metre and 10-metre lengths all the time. It’s about giving them more ideas to succeed,” he added.

Calling Shreyas Iyer a quality captain, Pandit said he was receptive to ideas but knew how to make his own calls. “Not just because he won the trophy, but I liked him as a captain because he was never rattled in any situation. He looked confident about his decision making and backed his instincts.”

PERSONAL LEARNINGS

From coaching six Ranji Trophy winning teams across three states (Mumbai, Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh) to winning the IPL crown on second attempt, the former India player calls IPL 2024 a tournament of many personal learnings. His old-school coaching style has been questioned sometimes. Pandit said one never stops learning.

“What I have understood from IPL is that every player at this level prepares differently,” he said. “Some players do not like to bat or bowl before a match. Initially, Mitchell Starc told me that he does not like to bowl a day before the match in the nets. Later, he felt the need to bowl and he wanted to attend the nets. Sunil Narine may come for an hour in the nets and bowl to one stump. They are used to their own preparations. They know their bodies better than anyone else. You go with that.

“In domestic cricket, it’s tough sometimes because you may have only two batters with international experience, while in IPL you have 7-8. But I will be a slightly changed man. I have learned how to manage players slightly differently and give them more freedom when one can. I have never said I know everything. In domestic cricket as well, I have taken suggestions from my video analyst and used it against Mumbai.”

Pandit is hopeful his success can open avenues for other Indian coaches to take senior positions in IPL teams. “I am honoured that KKR had faith in me. Gautam brought his international and KKR experience. His directions worked not just for the players but the coaching group as well. Between all the coaches, respect and communication was the way to go.”

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