By Suneer Chowdhary
It is no coincidence that Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, two teams that had retained key players from the previous years, figure in the play-offs. And at the end of the first day of the play-offs, it isn’t surprising to see CSK book a place in the final – their second in a row and third in four seasons.
Unlike CSK and Mumbai Indians, the sweeping changes in the composition of the other teams in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League left the fans suffering from identity crisis of the teams, and the teams themselves of having to go through an extended period of adjustments to a new environment and new set of players.
That is why Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) need to be lauded for their effort to get to the play-offs despite the massive churn in their set-up. There was much heart-burn when both team went for new-look sides and in the process dropped legendary names like Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly.
Kolkata, however, retained their back-up staff from the previous year. Dav Whatmore, Wasim Akram and Vijay Dahiya all continued to be a part of the KKR staff.
On the other hand, Bangalore’s captain from the previous year became the team’s mentor while coach Ray Jennings continued to hold charge. There is a lesson to learn from CSK and MI for others teams that massive changes does no good as team-building takes time. And that’s something Pune Warriors could do well to remember as one hear disquieting news that coach Geoff Marsh could get the sack.
While it will definitely help to go back to the drawing board and analyse where things went wrong, hasty sackings may prove counterproductive. It will also help to re-evaluate Yuvraj Singh’s role as team captain considering that this was the second successive poor year as the captain of an IPL side and there was an evident lack of conviction in some of his moves on the field.
The problem for the Pune Warriors could stem from the fact that while changing coaches could be easily achieved given the availability of resources, their side doesn’t have too many captains to choose from. Graeme Smith could take over from Yuvraj, but to have an active international as a captain would mean losing a vital player at a critical juncture. We saw that this season when the Sri Lankan board wanted Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene back home to prepare for the nation’s tour of England. The Lankan boad’s decision caused much heartache amongst the franchises and that’s a mistake teams would not like to commit again.
Of course, the one team which will look to change their squad for the 2012 edition would be the Delhi Daredevils. And the reason for that is not restricted to their tenth position finish. It is just that for a side to give up on all their frontline spinners and select eight pace bowlers in the squad would probably make sense if the IPL was going to be played in South Africa. But for the pitches in India, Delhi will need to get in some spinners.
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)