How to get back to winning ways. Yes, it’s possible.
I had said last time no need to overhaul the batting line-up because we had lost to Delhi. It was our first loss after 4 wins on the trot so we should have just swapped Morgan for Merwe as Merwe has been good in the first game and more importantly, bowled effectively for us last season. KP and White are good players but they haven’t really clicked when they’ve played for us. Kallis, Boucher, Merwe, and Ross Taylor have played more matches and have gelled well with the team. KP has a big reputation, yes, but he can’t simply walk into our line-up. Honestly, only Ross Taylor could do that. Hence, the team management shouldn’t feel bad about keeping KP out. Anil Kumble mentioned he’s too good of a player to miss out or something to the that effect which worries me because Kumble shouldn’t feel compelled to play him because of the price tag or his reputation. Dale Steyn has only come good this IPL so I think it is a bit of a learning curve. KP, White, and Morgan still need to get a hang of the game.
Or at least our game.
We are sort of a quirky side. We usually plod along until the 15th over and then start the fireworks. We are generally better at chasing. And we bowl with a lot of heart. We can’t repeat today’s situation which saw KP and White come in the crucial 15th over and take time to find their feet. Kallis shouldn’t have gotten out, but he’s the sort of guy who goes after the bowling after his 50. It’s what worked for him so today it didn’t come off. Dropping him isn’t the solution and neither is asking him to go ballistic from the word go. Instead other players like Pandey, Kohli, Uthappa should go for the big shots knowing that Kallis will be there to act as an anchor. And for the 15th over, we need a finisher. A Ross Taylor. Or a Mark Boucher. Boucher is someone who needs to be retained because he knows the drill; he knows the importance of those runs in the last 5 overs as he’s finished quite a few games for us which could have gone either way. And crucially, he’s doing a stellar job behind the stumps. Let’s not burden Uthappa with this job because we need him to concentrate on his batting. A drop catch could affect his batting and we really don’t need that.
And now I come to the hot topic of conversation.
Tempers are flaring on the messageboards, but I will try to put it across calmly. It is a mistake to have Dravid come at 7 or 8, pure and simple. He can play better than Kohli, KP, White so what’s the point of him playing so low? I seriously hope they are not phasing him out like what the Deccan Chargers have done to VVS because, well, there are just so many things wrong with that. Dravid was the only bright spot in our disasterous first season. He came back stronger in the second season and was involved in many match-winning partnerships. I still remember everytime Manish Pandey played a great knock, Dravid was there too, rotating the strike and allowing Pandey to play more freely. Maybe that’s why Pandey is not able to convert those starts into 50s like last year? Need I wax on? He may not be a wham-bam player, but as Tendulkar has shown, it’s not all about sixes. With that said, Dravid can hit those sixes too. I haven’t seen Dhoni, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Ganguly setting my tv screen on fire yet. But unlike Dravid, they have been given a lot more chances to do so. And enough with the “old legs” talk. Dravid’s phenomenal backwards running catch and his crucial run-out of Hayden proves he still has it and is eager to play a part. It’s a strange world when I’m forced to listen to the poster child of hair transplant miracles, Harsha Bhogle, interview Dravid and refer to him as a senior citizen.
Enough is enough.
I just hope the team management is wiser than that. If they think leaving out KP isn’t sending the right message, I can tell you now having Dravid just above Praveen Kumar in the batting order is much more degrading. And avoidable.
We still have time to make amends. Dravid needs to come at 3 or 4 and keep the scoreboard nicely ticking till that 15th over. Cue fireworks by Kohli, Taylor, Boucher, or Uthappa and get the total to be 170+. The opposition would get demoralized with the assault in the last 5 overs and there would be a spring in our steps when fielding. And if we’re chasing, the same rules apply; the only difference being the oppostion would get demoralized because we had won the game! Hopefully next match we will get the combination right and get back to our winning ways!