Sunday, April 10, 2011

Leadership Lessons From Sangakarra - What Not To Do

There are certain things that I felt Sangakarra missed out on in the World Cup final against India. Some of the greats have already said that there were a few things they would not have done if they were him. Here is my list of leadership lessons from the Lankan captain that day:

1) Making four changes from the winning squad: I thought that was a bit too much. Four changes? It's almost a new outfit playing the final and one who has just flown in as a replacement! Showed little faith in the team that got you to the final in style. Also showed you were rattled by the opposition's reputation.

2) Dropping Mendis: I always believed that you must go with the strength of what you have than what the opposition has. So the argument that Indians play spin better shows a lack of confidence in your own bowler - in fact your star bowler that far in the tournament, Mendis. Same for Dhoni who sat out Ashwin for Sreesanth. You have to trust your guy to work rather than what the others can do. Bad captaincy and bad reasoning by both captains.

3) Not attacking after the two early wickets: Sangakarra gave the game away by not attacking at all. The ease with which Gambir and Kohli settled down and took the bowling apart clinically was just not done. He just did the safe things and showed no innovation as a captain. No catchers, no cutting off the easy runs. It was almost as if he got awed by the prospect of winning the Cup and went into sleep mode. The changes he made and the field placements were below average.

4) Hoping to win rather than going in there and sealing it: Sangakarra made the cardinal mistake of hoping things would fall in place. And he hoped and hoped that Murali would do some magic (big hope as Murali was off colour almost all through), hoped that his new bowlers would do something, but he really did nothing more than hope. To me he appears to be one of those captains who hopes - one who does not make things happen and instead hopes that the opponents make the mistakes.

5) Giving up too soon: As early as maybe when Kohli was gone and MSD came and started settling in, Sangakarra's body language said that everything was over. I have not seen any captain give in so easily an so early on such a big match. There was nothing inspirational and he just went through the moves. I heard Ajay Jadeja say that by teh 17th over he knew we were home. That was how bad it was. Imagine an Aussie side defending 275 in the final! They would have fought tooth and nail until the last run.

6) Bowling Kulasekara ahead of his main bowlers in the death: When the run rate is falling and you have one strike bowler who has the capability of taking two or three wickets in an over like Malinga, your best chance is to push the other team till the last over. So you start bowling your best bowlers in and hope they push up the run rate or force a mistake from the batsmen so you can put the pressure on. That is the only chance. Then the last over can be bowled by anyone, and if there are two new batsmen and some 8-10 runs to get, you sill have chance. But you bowl Kulasekara, the weakest bowler all evening in the decisive 46th or 47th over instead of the better bowlers, the match is pretty much sealed in that over and the match is over without your best bowlers finishing their quota.

Personally. I thought Mahela was a better captain. I would like to see how Dilshan leads. He is an aggressive and thinking guy who adapts quickly. And all in all Lanka could have done better than they did that night. It was like they were in awe of the Indian batting line up all through! Anyway some lessons from that too.

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