Champions League Twenty20 September 12, 2010

IPL teams have the edge in the Champions League

Most teams are coming out of an off-season and might be equally rusty as our IPL teams

A quick look at the playing XIs of quite a few of the non-IPL teams in the Champions League is enough to tell the story in no uncertain terms - they are the poorer cousins of their IPL counterparts. Let's say they are as good as a Bengal or a Baroda, but are as run down as any state team would be, when playing an international outfit. The IPL teams swanking big names and decades of experience are of course better bets.

Logically then, the local teams sans star power should not be a patch on the three Indian teams. Yet not only have they put up a good fight, but have outperformed the IPL teams - none of the Indian teams qualified for the knock-outs in the first edition of the tournament. So what is it that is allowing the lesser teams to hold sway? More importantly, a question begs to be asked -- how good are our IPL teams after all?

In my humble opinion, it isn't the standard but the sheer competitiveness that seals the deal in favour of the IPL. Most teams in the IPL are equally balanced or imbalanced and share similar strengths and handicaps. Teams have the luxury of being able to start slowly, since the league is a lengthy event. So it's okay to start working as a unit a couple of weeks into the tournament.

But there are no such luxuries in the Champions League. It's mandatory to hit the ground running or else you will be forced to play catch up. Since the IPL teams don't play together year round, they find it tough to work as a team right from the beginning. Finding out out what makes certain players tick and how they will perform in certain situations consumes vital time. Of course, the local teams enjoy an edge on this account as the line-up works as a cohesive unit round the year.

Unfortunately, IPL teams have mostly banked on reputations and not on current form to bail them out of tough situations, while the other first-class teams have had in-form players to assume the responsibility.

Another major factor that has had a huge impact on the overall standing of the non-IPL teams is knowledge of the opposition. Since the IPL is a hugely watched worldwide spectacle, its players have been exposed to analysis. The other participating teams escape such scrutiny. For example T&T took everyone by surprise with a brand of West Indian cricket which was almost forgotten or absolutely new to others.

While non-IPL teams can plan and prepare in advance and hence know what to expect from the IPL teams, our teams need to be more fluid in their approach. The role of a coach becomes remarkably insignificant because it's the captain who must think on his feet, analyse the opposition on the ground itself and react appropriately. He must back his instincts a great deal too.

The only thing that might bring parity in this year's edition is its timing. Most teams are coming out of an off-season and might be equally rusty as our IPL teams. In spite of the IPL teams claiming to have more match-winners than the rest, it's imperative to play as a single unit. The seasoned players are expected to adapt to tough South African conditions more easily than most first-class cricketers from around the world, but it is always a team that wins a match.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Looch on September 20, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    You couldn't have been more wrong! A champion team will always beat a team of champions. The sooner the IPL realises this the better and they should funnel their filthy lucre into the Indian Domestic competitions where it will do some good.

  • Vilander on September 15, 2010, 19:56 GMT

    We should only retain players whose teams are not in CL, ross should play for stags.

  • vasu on September 14, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    i will not agree with u eventhough u have many reasons....it might have happened in last CL but not now.... I could only say 'just wait and see '

  • Jim on September 14, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    Accepting all the arguments, I need to point out that IPL should not be dictators in having players from other opponents of champions league if there is a dilemma over players who play for both teams. Either players should be allowed to decide or their "home" teams. In case of scenario in Pollard being foreign player for both MI and SAR, IPL team might go ahead pick the player as they give money in compensation. I guess if this happens from next year at least, teams owuld be more equal and competition would be more worth watching and not frustrating for non-IPL teams. But, Who would bell the cat?

  • Prashant Mohan on September 13, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    I believe that the IPL teams do not have that big an advantage over the other teams competing in the Champions League. They are a medley of world class players. They may seem awesome on paper, but that doesn't necessarily mean they play well together. Take the first edition of IPL for instance, the team with the least 'big' names(Rajastan Royals) ended up lifting the trophy. The Deccan Chargers studded with big hitters didn't do too well. A T20 game finishes before you know it. On their day any team can do well. T&T for example surprised everyone by reaching the finals 2 years ago. I'm hoping all 3 IPL teams make it to the semis. But it wont be a cake walk, thats for sure!

  • Sahil Vadgaonkar on September 13, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    I don't agree with you for a variety of reasons that you, yourself have mentioned in this article. In fact, take the example of T&T and other such domestic teams. Their set-ups are so that they not only play T20 tournaments but also play 4 Day matches and one day competitions. In addition to this, they may end up playing a tour game with a visiting country too. In my opinion, they are units which have grown up together and understand each other well, unlike the IPL teams. By merely having big names, one cannot assure you of a semi-final spot. If you have any doubts- look at last year's CLT20

  • Raghavan Latha Narasimhan on September 13, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Well written article,Akash.Agree with you.

  • Looch on September 20, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    You couldn't have been more wrong! A champion team will always beat a team of champions. The sooner the IPL realises this the better and they should funnel their filthy lucre into the Indian Domestic competitions where it will do some good.

  • Vilander on September 15, 2010, 19:56 GMT

    We should only retain players whose teams are not in CL, ross should play for stags.

  • vasu on September 14, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    i will not agree with u eventhough u have many reasons....it might have happened in last CL but not now.... I could only say 'just wait and see '

  • Jim on September 14, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    Accepting all the arguments, I need to point out that IPL should not be dictators in having players from other opponents of champions league if there is a dilemma over players who play for both teams. Either players should be allowed to decide or their "home" teams. In case of scenario in Pollard being foreign player for both MI and SAR, IPL team might go ahead pick the player as they give money in compensation. I guess if this happens from next year at least, teams owuld be more equal and competition would be more worth watching and not frustrating for non-IPL teams. But, Who would bell the cat?

  • Prashant Mohan on September 13, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    I believe that the IPL teams do not have that big an advantage over the other teams competing in the Champions League. They are a medley of world class players. They may seem awesome on paper, but that doesn't necessarily mean they play well together. Take the first edition of IPL for instance, the team with the least 'big' names(Rajastan Royals) ended up lifting the trophy. The Deccan Chargers studded with big hitters didn't do too well. A T20 game finishes before you know it. On their day any team can do well. T&T for example surprised everyone by reaching the finals 2 years ago. I'm hoping all 3 IPL teams make it to the semis. But it wont be a cake walk, thats for sure!

  • Sahil Vadgaonkar on September 13, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    I don't agree with you for a variety of reasons that you, yourself have mentioned in this article. In fact, take the example of T&T and other such domestic teams. Their set-ups are so that they not only play T20 tournaments but also play 4 Day matches and one day competitions. In addition to this, they may end up playing a tour game with a visiting country too. In my opinion, they are units which have grown up together and understand each other well, unlike the IPL teams. By merely having big names, one cannot assure you of a semi-final spot. If you have any doubts- look at last year's CLT20

  • Raghavan Latha Narasimhan on September 13, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Well written article,Akash.Agree with you.

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  • Raghavan Latha Narasimhan on September 13, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    Well written article,Akash.Agree with you.

  • Sahil Vadgaonkar on September 13, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    I don't agree with you for a variety of reasons that you, yourself have mentioned in this article. In fact, take the example of T&T and other such domestic teams. Their set-ups are so that they not only play T20 tournaments but also play 4 Day matches and one day competitions. In addition to this, they may end up playing a tour game with a visiting country too. In my opinion, they are units which have grown up together and understand each other well, unlike the IPL teams. By merely having big names, one cannot assure you of a semi-final spot. If you have any doubts- look at last year's CLT20

  • Prashant Mohan on September 13, 2010, 18:59 GMT

    I believe that the IPL teams do not have that big an advantage over the other teams competing in the Champions League. They are a medley of world class players. They may seem awesome on paper, but that doesn't necessarily mean they play well together. Take the first edition of IPL for instance, the team with the least 'big' names(Rajastan Royals) ended up lifting the trophy. The Deccan Chargers studded with big hitters didn't do too well. A T20 game finishes before you know it. On their day any team can do well. T&T for example surprised everyone by reaching the finals 2 years ago. I'm hoping all 3 IPL teams make it to the semis. But it wont be a cake walk, thats for sure!

  • Jim on September 14, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    Accepting all the arguments, I need to point out that IPL should not be dictators in having players from other opponents of champions league if there is a dilemma over players who play for both teams. Either players should be allowed to decide or their "home" teams. In case of scenario in Pollard being foreign player for both MI and SAR, IPL team might go ahead pick the player as they give money in compensation. I guess if this happens from next year at least, teams owuld be more equal and competition would be more worth watching and not frustrating for non-IPL teams. But, Who would bell the cat?

  • vasu on September 14, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    i will not agree with u eventhough u have many reasons....it might have happened in last CL but not now.... I could only say 'just wait and see '

  • Vilander on September 15, 2010, 19:56 GMT

    We should only retain players whose teams are not in CL, ross should play for stags.

  • Looch on September 20, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    You couldn't have been more wrong! A champion team will always beat a team of champions. The sooner the IPL realises this the better and they should funnel their filthy lucre into the Indian Domestic competitions where it will do some good.