IPL 2019: Why Virat Kohli has been unable to do what Rohit and Dhoni do so often

first_imgAnother edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to an end on May 12 when Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga foxed Chennai Super Kings’ tailender Shardul Thakur on the last ball of the final to steal a 1-run victory for MI.This was Rohit Sharma’s 4th IPL trophy as a captain, surpassing MS Dhoni’s 3 trophies with CSK. On the other hand, India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli endured another disappointing season as the side couldn’t qualify for the playoffs for the 3rd year in a row.While Rohit and Dhoni’s fairytale with the IPL is very well documented with a total of 7 trophies amongst them, Kohli’s case is pertinent as to why a popular international captain is failing to mirror that success in the cash-rich T20 league. When analyzed together, these 3 IPL skippers can provide us the clues to the question: How to (not) win the IPL?MS Dhoni – Been there, done that Courtesy by BCCIMatches as captain – 174Won – 104Win% – 60.11IPL titles – 3Arguably one of the greatest white-ball cricketers ever, MS Dhoni proved his captaincy credentials as soon as he took over the reins of the Indian team for the inaugural World T20 in 2007. The rest, as they say, is history as he led not just the national side to one trophy after another but also CSK to 3 IPL trophies.In this day and age of never-ending influx of data and analysis in cricket, especially in the IPL, Dhoni and his team have been consistently proving everyone wrong by reaching the playoffs in every single season they have played. Whether it’s India or CSK, any team that Dhoni leads, ends up being moulded in the image of Dhoni. A master tactician himself, Dhoni has seen it all and acheived all that was on offer on the international stage and the IPL. But the beauty of Dhoni and his team lies in the fact that despite the proliferation of numbers and analysis in the IPL, they are not particularly fond of stats.advertisementOften ridiculed for being the oldest side in the IPL, Dhoni knows that ‘with age comes experience’.”Our age is (out) there, you can Google it. But you just can’t beat experience in any sport”: Dhoni’s teammate Dwayne Bravo said during IPL 2019.Another defining feature of Dhoni’s captaincy in the IPL has been trusting a fixed core group of players while building the team around them. The likes of Bravo, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson have long been identified by Dhoni as his key players and the franchise sticks with them each year showing their trust in the players. The players on their part seem to extract the most out of their potential while playing under ‘the best captain in the world’ – in the words of Bravo.Dhoni also realises that in a format as cruel as T20, one needs to back such players even if they are going through a rut. This was reflected perfectly when CSK continued with Watson as their opener despite him failing in the 1st 10 matches of the season. In the next one, the Australian was adjudged the Man of the Match as he hit a rollicking 96 to win the game for his side. Later in the final against Mumbai, Watson again proved his worth when he took CSK to within a touching distance of the win.But the fact that separates Dhoni as a captain from the rest is his trust of instincts. Dhoni knows that no matter how much planning you put into your preparation, in the end, it’s going to be actual human beings who have to execute those plans. If they can’t, you are set to fail. Dhoni’s focus is on players performing according to the situation and their own strengths and weaknesses. Whether its taking the game deep into the final over or using spinners in the powerplay as well as at the death, these decisions have Dhoni’s cricketing smarts written all over them. Dhoni’s instincts are one of the main reasons why he remains one of the legends of the IPL.Rohit Sharma: Friendly neighbourhood ‘Hitman’ Courtesy by BCCIMatches as captain – 104Won – 60Win% – 58.65IPL titles – 4Since Rohit took over the captaincy of MI, they have come a long way from being also-rans to 4-time winners of the IPL. Having trumped Dhoni’s CSK 4 times out of 4 this season, Rohit Sharma has now proved that when it comes to the IPL, he is as good a captain as anyone else.advertisementBut in contrast to Dhoni, Rohit and his team rely a lot on analytics and stats. Take the example of how MI plotted the downfall of Kolkata Knight Riders’ Andre Russell in a league fixture in Mumbai.In Rohit’s own words after the win: “Malinga has never bowled around the wicket to any batsman. So, he came and bowled to Andre Russell, and he got him out. That was sheer planning. We went through his videos as well to see what sort of movements he creates when he bats, so we thought coming round the wicket will be an ideal option for him and bowl that bouncer. That’s an example I gave you, but overall what I want to say is strategies and planning do help and we’re very good at what we do here.”Rohit’s reliance on stats is to the extent that he often has one or more back-up plans ready if the 1st strategy backfires. As any success story teaches us, such a guarded and well-planned approach is sure to yield favourable returns sooner or later.For Rohit Sharma though, winning matters and also requires taking tough decisions. The exclusion of crowd favourite Yuvraj Singh from the playing XI after the 1st few games was notable this year as Rohit chose to bank on the youthful exuberance of Ishan Kishan instead of the 37-year-old former India all-rounder.What has been particularly exceptional about Rohit’s leadership is his faith in the younger players. Apart from Kishan, the way Rohit used Rahul Chahar throughout this season was nothing short of a masterstroke. Even in the final, Chahar’s figures of 1/14 of his 4 overs were worth their weight in gold even though it was overshadowed by the efforts of Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga.In Sachin Tendulkar, Mahela Jayawardene, Zaheer Khan, Shane Bond and Robin Singh, Rohit Sharma also has probably the richest support staff -purely in terms of cricketing acumen – among all IPL teams. They make smart choices at the auctions and maintain a relaxed atmosphere while preparing players to execute strategies under real-life match situations. Rohit, on his part, concurs.”We do believe in each others’ ability and we do believe in planning strategies,” Rohit said during the IPL.”Luckily for me, I have a staff around me which is so good at that, in terms of planning and making those crucial decisions and strategies. Because I am a firm believer in having planning. Whatever game you play, you have to go with a plan and have some sort of strategies around the opposition. I’ve seen IPL from close quarters, you need to be a little dynamic.”Virat Kohli – What not to do at IPL Courtesy by BCCIMatches as captain – 110Won – 49Win% – 47.16IPL titles – 0India’s 2nd most-successful Test captain has struggled, to say the least, in the IPL and did so once again this season. It seems what works for Kohli at the Test level – his aggression – proves to be his undoing in the IPL. The difference being that while leading India in Tests, he has the country’s best talent at his disposal and his sustained aggression can at times wear the opposition down, as it did against Australia a few months ago. Come the IPL, Kohli’s aggression is laid threadbare when his bowlers bowl wayward lines and the batsmen play rash shots.advertisementYou could argue that the problem starts at the auction itself and you wouldn’t be far from the truth. RCB have always been found out due to the lack of a balanced side. While before the last auction they lacked a disciplined fast bowler in their lineup, the middle-order sans AB de Villiers looked out of sorts as well. But still somehow they ended up with the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini – all good pacers but also prone to leak runs on any given day. Though in the batting department, the addition of Shimron Hetmyer raised hopes.But the hope soon turned into despair as RCB went on a six-match losing streak beginning from their opening game debacle against CSK. And once the slide started, the continuous chopping and changing meant that only 8 RCB players got to play 10 or more matches in IPL 2019. Moeen Ali, who is known for his ball-striking ability was terribly underused and often found himself coming in to bat when a handful of deliveries were left in the innings. Hetmyer got to play just 5 games. Tim Southee featured in just 3. The dependence on Kohli and AB continued while other batsmen failed to rally around the talismanic duo.Just before the start of IPL 2019, Kohli was asked if he felt bad about not winning the tournament even once. His reply was: “You mean IPL? I don’t really care whether I am judged on this or not.” The fact of the matter is that whether Kohli cares or not, he still is the captain of an IPL team and looks, in all likelihood, to remain in the post in the near future. It is then pertinent for the captain to at least ‘care’ about winning or losing. The way Rohit has carved a legacy for himself while leading MI, one wonders what is stopping Kohli from doing the same.Maybe Kohli needs to take a leaf out of his senior Dhoni. After all he still takes his counsel on the field during India matches. Maybe Kohli needs a pause. Maybe he will be better served with more sane voices in his ears as Rohit has at MI. Both RCB and Kohli have got to take a moment and decide what kind of legacy they want their team to take forward after 12 trophy-less years. Is it going to be ‘plain aggression’ and ‘fighting fire with fire’? Or, will they finally start making smart choices at the auctions?Will Kohli be willing to back his most trusted bowlers, no matter the amount of stick they receive in one game? Will Kohli be willing to back his batsmen despite failures? Most importantly, will Kohli stop living in denial and actually start caring about the IPL? Unless the answers to these questions are in affirmative, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for RCB.Also Read | How India’s World Cup-bound players fared in IPL 2019Also Read | Perfect Endgame: How MI served revenge cold in IPL 2019 final to CSKAlsO Read | IPL 2019 final was paisa vasool for fans but CSK players heartbroken: Harbhajan SinghAlso See:last_img

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