Friday, April 20, 2012

Sangakarra's Captaincy Flaw

One of the reasons why I think the Deccan Chargers is failing so far in this edition of IPL is this fatal flaw I see in their captain. Sangakarra is a wonderful batsman and a fine cricketer, but as a captain he leaves much to desired. One particular flaw which cost them at least two games is his reluctance to attack aggressively and seize the initiative. He does not capitalize even on the early initiatives provided by his bowlers and settles back to play a waiting game. letting all the initial advantage go. This penchant to sit back cost him not just his World Cup campaign but the last few games for the Chargers as well.

In the World Cup there was a moment when India was on the back foot. Sachin was out. Morally we were all down - the crowd, the team. It was a huge moral high for the Lankans as was evident in their celebration. But that was it. Sangakarra did not attack enough to get another wicket. He let things drift and hoped things would happen and the doughty pair of Gambhir and Kohli took India to safety before he attacked - too late. Lanka never got a whiff after that.

This waiting and hoping is the killer. When you have the advantage you have to finish the opponent off. You must attack and go inside their fort to conquer them. You must not let the opponents get a breath back once you score a hit. Once they breathe, the think, and then they get hope, and then its over. You must be vicious. You must batter and kill them off. You must use your heaviest clubs for this purpose. You must use your greatest strength when it has the greatest potential to inflict damage.

One is talking of Dale Steyn who is bowling like a man possessed. Some of his spells have been astounding. Against the Royals with 200 runs on the board Sanga let Rahul and Rahane get in - what could be a greater folly than to let two batsmen who are known for their temperament get their eye in - and gifted the game away. Why did he not attack them early on with his strongest bowler who would be deadliest with the new ball, break the partnership and make inroads into the lower order? The first six overs are crucial in terms of wickets and you have the deadliest weapon in all IPL with you. But for some reason Sanga is thinking of the last overs. With 200 on the board if you think of the last overs, you have lost the game mentally. In the overs after the 15th over, even Steyn will be taken to the cleaners as everyone is flinging their bats about. Sanga did the same thing in another match - against the Daredevils I think - and let them off the hook.

The T20 is a slugfest. The one who stands last is the one who goes swinging early and hard. You don't have time to recover in this format. If you have the firepower use it early and push the opponent back against the ropes. Don't think of the last overs and of saving the game - anyone will go for runs.

Sanga, go for the jugular early. Hit them with all you have. Don't save up. There is just no time in this format. Use your strengths ruthlessly.

Also, invest more faith in your other players. You must rely on your entire team and not just one or two players. You must truly believe in that and empower the juniors to perform freely for the team. They must enjoy your confidence and must want to perform to please you. That they will, only if they know you trust their capabilities implicitly.

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