So now it’s the playoffs, and there are four teams left standing to try and take the coveted IPL trophy home. Will we have a champion that has never won the trophy before, or is the experience of the big finals going to help the teams that have won it earlier? Those who have missed out will be doing post-mortems as to why they couldn’t progress and why they faltered. Ideally, such an analysis should be done after a few days have passed after the finals, for then it is more likely to be a reasoned one and not an emotional one.
Most importantly, it’s got to be an honest one, with no holds barred, for that’s the only way hard calls can be taken before the next auction comes up. The two bottom placed teams have plenty of food for thought. They were coached by two of the greatest batters in the history of the game, and yet their teams finished in the bottom half. There could be many reasons for this, but the main one is the aura that these two wonderful players have about them. What this does is keep players, especially domestic newcomers, shy of approaching these masters for any advice. These players have had such superior skills and a magnificent temperament that it’s not easy for them to think like those not as gifted as they were in both the technique and temperament departments.
So, what might have looked like an easy-to-rectify problem during their playing days is not conveyed in the same facile way they solved it themselves. Often, the language is a barrier for a young, budding Indian player who comes from the interiors and may not be conversant in English to understand. That probably explains why players like Yash Dhull, Priyam Garg, and Sarfaraz Khan, to name just three, have made little or no progress. Prithvi Shaw has also not been able to come to terms with the delivery around the ribcage, and the result has been a shortage of runs from some of the most promising and prolific young players in the country. Then there was the stubborn, almost defiant refusal to promote the in-form Axar Patel up the batting order. It prompted Ravi Shastri, who had coached the Indian team until last year and seen the batting ability that Axar has, to question if there was something in the contract that said Patel wouldn’t bat above number 7 in the batting order.
The other crucial thing is to have an Indian as the coach or skipper, for that allows the newer, younger players to approach them easily and talk about their problems, if any, and also pick their brains on how to get better. It is quite apparent that teams that have Indian coaches and captains are a lot happier than those that don’t. There will be a minimum of seven Indian players in every playing squad, and make no mistake, however wonderful the overseas talent there may be in the team, it will invariably be the Indian skill that wins more matches.
Look at the progress made by Rinku Singh under Chandu Pandit, the terrific coming back to form of Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy, and Nitish Rana growing as a captain. Under the guidance of Gautam Gambhir, see how Ravi Bishnoi, Ayush Badoni, and Naveen Ul Haq are flowering, as also under Ashish Nehra and Hardik Pandya, who invariably find a new player of the match. That’s simply because communication and reach are easy for the domestic Indian players in these teams. Mind you, there will always be the overseas champ who has a way with young players and can act as a guide and mentor to them. These are rare exceptions and not the norm.
Out of the 15 titles so far, 12 have been won by teams led by Indians.
I rest my case.
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