By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Deccan Chargers’ fairytale triumph of 2009 is a distant memory considering their recent struggles.That year, Adam Gilchrist masterminded a remarkable triumph that lifted them from the dumps of a last place finish during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2008. Three seasons later, the same franchise is desperate to regain its lost pride with a completely different set of players.
There have been massive change in the team for the 2012 edition compared to their squads in the first three seasons. The 2011 auction put all the players under the hammer, but franchises had the option to retain a maximum of four players. It was astonishing that Deccan didn’t hold on to some of the architects of their 2009 triumph like Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Rudra Pratap Singh. Pragyan Ojha was the only player they were able to buy back from the auction. The others were new additions to the line-up.
If Deccan’s squad-building strategy prior to the 2011 season was surprising, some of their moves in 2012 have been absolute shockers. Kevin Pietersen, who missed the entire IPL 2011 owing to injury, was sent packing to Delhi where he finds himself amongst celebrated names. The pertinent question is: How could a team that struggled throughout the last season sell one of the most destructive players in the world? His mere presence in the line-up would have added tremendous firepower. The opposition too would have been wary of his presence and chalked out a few strategies to get the better of him.
The other surprising trade was that of Ojha. He was one player from the 2009 team that Deccan managed to buy during the previous auction. The Purple Cap winner of the 2010 season was sold to the Mumbai Indians. Considering the impact Ojha had on the fortunes of the Deccan Chargers, selling him should have been the last thing on their list. Had they persisted with him, they would have had a strong spin bowling combination of Amit Mishra and Ojha. Instead, Mumbai have Ojha’s services to complement Harbhajan Singh’s off breaks.
The abysmal start to the 2012 campaign brings back memories of their failures during the last season. There were a few players who performed well, but the whole unit did not hit it off. It is very clear that they are heavily dependent on their foreign players. Although, Shikhar Dhawan and Amit Mishra contributed well during the last season, a lot depends on Kumar Sangakkara and Dale Steyn.
In their first three games of the ongoing season, most of the runs have been scored by foreign players, Dhawan being the only exception. Steyn has carried the burden of picking wickets and nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat against the Mumbai Indians. Ishant Sharma’s absence has robbed them of a quality Indian pacer as the others don’t inspire much confidence. Tadhuri Sudhindra and Manpreet Singh Gony struggled in their only outing and hence, opportunities may be hard to come by. That leaves Sangakkara with Daniel Christian – someone who can get you wickets, but can be very expensive. Mishra would have to lead the spin attack all by himself.
History tells us that successful IPL sides have had god contributions from their local players as they can make or break the side. Deccan’s domestic army needs to fire so that there isn’t much pressure on the bigger players. Currently, they are the weakling of the side and these are worrying signs for Deccan considering the fact that there are a number of them in the team. Sparkling individual performances may win you a game or two, but consistency is only achieved through team work.
Nevertheless, Deccan can take heart from the fact that it is early in the season and they can still recover. However, the three defeats may have a huge psychological impact on the side. In the first game against Chennai they were walloped by Ravindra Jadeja. The losses against Mumbai and Rajasthan Royals may have a lasting impression as they were games they shouldn’t have lost. They had the opportunity to seal the deal until they let go the advantage in the dying stages.
Sangakkara and Darren Lehmann would do well to use the team’s history to motivate the side. Apart from 2009 triumph aside, their exploits in the 2010 season were also spectacular. At one stage, Deccan was on the verge of elimination when Gilchrist’s leadership pulled off a Houdini act and sealed five wins on the trot – results that took them to the semi-finals. An encore of that performance would certainly change the fortunes of this languishing side.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)