Posted: 04 May 2011 at 10:44pm | IP Logged
Throughout this series, one thing that's been nagging has been the IPL commentators - Harsha Bhogle, Arun Lal, Ayaz Memon and others criticize IPL captains for being too 'negative' and holding back their best batsmen for the slog overs. On the bowling side of things, they expect every side to use their best bowlers during the first 6 powerplay overs. Do you agree w/ this? Or do you think they are not thinking this true, and that the captains in most cases, are making the right calls? Here are the examples.
DC - the demand has been that Sangakara bat @ #3, or indeed open in some cases. But should Sangakara bat higher than Cameron While, if the latter is being included? White has been in bad form, and could well have done as an opener, given that the team has Sangakara himself batting @ #4. I do think that anything below that is unrealistic, since Sangakara is not a late order slogger of the ball. But he's definitely a better player of spin bowling than White. If Duminy is in the team instead of White, I'd have him bat @ #5
KTK - here, Mahela has been praised for opening, but has he done the right thing by doing it regularly? In the match against Mumbai where they had a stiff total, he did it and they won, but since then, he should have looked sending Brad Hodge in to open, instead of himself, particularly since the latter is a regular opener in this format, and has even opened for KKR last season. One thing that surprised me is KTK not being criticized for having 3 batsmen @ the expense of Murli - given Hodge's wretched form, once Michael Klinger was included, Hodge should have been dropped, and Murli brought in.
KKR - here, Gauti has been criticized for not opening, and given the depth of their batting, I agree. None of the wicket keepers who were asked to open w/ Kallis, except Haddin, did a good job, and I wonder whether changing opening partners on Kallis all the time has eroded his confidence. I'd also say that Shakib and Lee should be automatic selections in every match, in addition to Kallis, while Boucher, Morgan and Tenny battle out for the 4th spot.
PWI - here, the criticism of Yuvi and Uthappa has been the loudest for batting so far down. But both of them have batter better lower down, and rarely succeeded @ #3 or as openers. Problem w/ Pune has been their top 4 batsmen, but the solution here seems to be to try out other combinations, such as Fergusson, Ryder @ #3 and so on. Hopefully, Dada's joining (rather too late to make a difference to PWI this year) would stabilize things @ the top.
RCB - They were initially being criticized for opening w/ Mayank Agarwal, and someone even suggested that AB open w/ Dilshan, which would have put them in the same state as PWI. Chris Gayle joining them has silenced this, and the openers are followed by Kohli, AB, Saurabh Tiwari and Pujara. Personally, I think that Tiwari and Pujara can be more effective higer up the order - maybe have Pujara, Kohli, Tiwari and AB in that order. AB can certainly slot the end overs better, and would need less time adjusting to the pacemen than Pujara or Tiwari.
RR - in the matches that Botha wasn't playing, Warne was criticized for batting Watson @ #3, and Ross Taylor @ #5 or 6. I agree about Watson, but Taylor's main success for RCB last year was batting late - coming in @ over #14 and slogging it out - that's what he can do most effectively for RR. Problem w/ RR is that w/ Warne and Watson locked, you have Botha, Tait and Taylor battling it out for the 4th overseas slot - the team either shortens their batting line-up by dropping Taylor (and they don't have a domestic batting strength after Dravid) or they skimp on the pace department by dropping Tait. Botha, like Watson, is a bit more indispensible since he's been batting and bowling well for RR.
CSK, DD, KXIP and MI have not been criticized for this so far, since their openers have largely clicked. For CSK, everybody from #4 onward comes in late, since in all matches, either Mike Hussey/Vijay have clicked, or else Hussey/Riana/Badrinath have. Nobody has demanded that Symonds or Pollard bat higher, since they come in late anyway once Rohit Sharma and Rayudu are gone. DD is opening w/ Warner and Sehwag, and have nobody in the middle order firing, except Venugopal Rao. KXIP have Gillie, Paul and Shawn Marsh @ the top, so nobody is complaining, even though they have a weak lower order (maybe better off since Dave Hussey is back)
However, the criticism that a team must use its best bowlers in the powerplay is w/o merit, particularly since each bowler has only 4 overs. I liked the way MI did it yesterday - didn't have Malinga confront Smith or Ryder, and instead left it to Munaf and Harbhajan to make the initial breakthroughs. That way, Malinga was there to start the tail end overs as early as over# 13. The suggested strategy only makes sense if a team has plenty of bowlers/all-rounders and uses one up, like say DC using up Ishant Sharma, while saving Steyn and Christian for the tail end.
What do you all think? Do you agree w/ the commentators?