The IPL-2020 is past the halfway mark with some interesting names hovering at the top of the table. The usual suspects Mumbai Indians have been joined by the likes of Delhi Capitals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Things are very tight at the bottom half of the table and any of the remaining 5 teams can qualify for the playoffs.
T20 is a game of fine margins and Captains have a major role as things keep changing at a brisk pace in a T20 match. A good Captain must always be pro-active and should stay ahead of the game. However, in this year’s IPL, some of the captains haven’t played the percentages and have had to endure poor results because of it. Let us take a look at some of the blunders made by the Captains in this year’s IPL.
Playing Robin Uthappa in the middle-order
Robin Uthappa has been one of the most consistent performers in the IPL, having amassed more than 4500 runs. Most of his runs have come at the top of the order for his previous franchise the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Rajasthan Royals secured his services for this year IPL with a hefty amount of ₹ 3 cr.
The stylish right-handed batsman from Karnataka has thus far looked as a shadow of his former self, labouring to just 124 runs from 7 matches. A major reason behind this torrid run is that he is made to bat in the middle order with more experienced foreign stars like Jos Buttler, Steve Smith and Ben Stokes helming the top order. Uthappa got a crisp 41 in the only game in which he opened the innings. It is high time that the Royals management realise their mistake and make Uthappa bat in the top order for the rest of their matches.
Sending ABD below Sundar and Dube
In a pleasant surprise to their fans, the Royal Challengers from Bangalore have had an excellent start to their season. The team which has been languishing in the bottom half of the points table for the past few years, is one of the favourites to qualify for the playoffs this year. Most of the things which Captain Kohli has touched has turned to gold. However, not all of his decisions have turned out to be masterstrokes.
One such strange decision was the demotion of an in-form A.B de Villiers in their game against the Kings XI Punjab at Sharjah. Knowing that the opposition had two leg spinners in their repertoire, Kohli decided to promote the left handed pair of Washington Sundar and Shivam Dube ahead of ABD. The pair faced a combine of 33 balls but could only muster 36 runs. When de Villiers finally walked out to the crease, only 4 overs were left. The result, RCB could only manage a below par total of 171 which was chased with relative ease by the Kings XI Punjab.
Giving Krishnappa Gowtham the final over
Kings XI Punjab haven’t been consistent enough throughout this IPL. They have struggled to close down games despite being on top for most of the course of the game. Another such instance occurred in their match against the defending champions Mumbai Indians at Abu Dhabi. After winning the toss and electing to field first, KXIP made a strong start to the game and restricted the mighty batting line up of Mumbai to just 102 runs from 15 overs. However, that’s when all hell broke loose.
The dynamic duo of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard took the KXIP attack to the cleaners and amassed 89 runs in the last five overs. Both are known to be excellent players of spin bowling. For some reason, KXIP captain K.L Rahul thought of bowling his fellow Karnataka off-spinner in the last over against Pollard and Pandya. Gowtham started off well with a dot ball but the remaining five deliveries went for 25 runs, including 4 massive sixes. The inexplicable decision of bowling Gowtham at the death against two of the best players of spin left the KXIP fans baffled. A strong finish to their innings ensured that Mumbai won the contest handsomely by a margin of 48 runs.
Not playing Chris Gayle
The ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle has been one of the stars of the IPL over the years. The two-time T20 World Cup winner has 4561 runs to his name in the IPL at a blistering strike rate of 150. After conquering the hearts of RCB fans, Gayle moved on to the KXIP line up in 2018. However, after two relative successful seasons in 2018 and 2019, Gayle was left out of the starting line up by the KXIP management in favour of Glenn Maxwell.
The move turned out to be a disaster as the Kings XI failed miserably in their conquest to conjure up big scores. Maxwell failed in each of the 9 innings. Gayle was finally given a chance in the game against RCB at Sharjah and the big guy from Jamaica didn’t disappoint. He also struck a vital six in the Super Over in the next game against the Mumbai Indians which helped his side past the finish line.
Opening the innings with Ben Stokes
There is little doubt that Ben Stokes is currently the best all-rounder in the world. The maverick all-rounder from England has been at the peak of his powers in the past few years, having secured the coveted ODI World Cup title to his side. Stokes had been retained by the Royals in this years’ auctions at a hefty price tag of ₹ 12.5 cr.
However, the manner in which the Royals have utilised his services has raised a few eye brows. Stokes is a proven match-winner in the middle order. But somehow the Royals management thinks that they can get the most out of him at the top of the order. The move has failed as Stokes could only contribute 61 runs from 3 games playing as an opener.