Champions League T20 2012 October 17, 2012

Why the heavyweight IPL sides haven't fired

The conditions in South Africa as well as the teams' varying preparations have leveled the field in the Champions League T20a

After seven matches of this year's Champions League T20, an IPL team has only won once, and that was against another IPL team. The defending champions Mumbai Indians, the current IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders and the most successful franchise Chennai Super Kings haven't earned a point. Only Delhi Daredevils have had a victory, making it four losses out of five matches for the IPL.

The IPL sides are expected to win more often than not in the Champions League because of the superstars in their squads, and so the early results are surprising.

The immediate thought will be that the bounce of South African pitches is a problem for the mostly subcontinental batting line-ups, and to some degree that would be correct. However, the IPL teams haven't won also because of a lack of preparation, both physically and tactically, and because their heavyweights haven't delivered, especially when compared to the performances of some of the lesser-known players.

The Wanderers and Centurion have both had pitches that may be considered a little too spicy for Twenty20s. Titans fast bowler CJ de Villiers picked up wickets against Perth Scorchers in Centurion, because his height gave him more bounce than anyone else. Delhi's pace attack, which served them so well at home in the IPL, was also effective there. Mitchell Starc did the same against Chennai at the Wanderers, displaying exemplary control on a helpful surface.

From the qualifying rounds, the batsmen have struggled to time the ball and have been surprised by the pace at which it arrives on them. Only Auckland Aces's line-up has looked confident when playing shots, an outcome of a month's preparation in South Africa.

Auckland arrived on September 22 and, when compared to them, their competition looked underprepared. They beat an IPL side, and not entirely because of the conditions. Auckland's win over Kolkata was a result of a spirited performance from the whole unit and the big-match temperament of Azhar Mahmood, who for the second time in the competition starred with both bat and ball.

Unlike the two up-country stadiums, Newlands in Cape Town does not have a reputation for assisting the quicks. Pitches there are generally good cricket wickets and that's what they have been so far. On the day Auckland played Kolkata, the weather in Cape Town was closer to a New Zealand summer's day than even a South African one, and pretty far away from the heat of India.

On a more summery afternoon, it was Chennai's turn to be outplayed, again. A feisty Lions side won the match because of their left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso and slow starter Gulam Bodi. Although the experience of Neil McKenzie was on hand, the youngsters Jean Symes and Chris Morris finished the chase.

Chennai were simply not up to the mark. Their team selection may have flawed as they opted for the local lad Albie Morkel, though he is native to Centurion not Cape Town, instead of Nuwan Kulasekera. Their tactics were also questionable: R Ashwin was bowled out despite being expensive, while the more economical Ravindra Jadeja had an over left. Dhoni had also seemed to miscalculate his bowlers' rotation in the first match, against Sydney Sixers, when Ben Hilfenhaus only bowled three overs but Faf du Plessis and Ashwin had their full quotas.

Strategy was a problem for Mumbai as well. They promoted their only left-hander, fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, to target Phangiso in Johannesburg, but he found batting tough on tricky pitch and admitted as much. Kolkata also threw in a tactic that did not work. They left out Brett Lee at Newlands in favour of Shakib Al Hasan, who disappointed with both bat and ball.

Titans' allrounder Roelof van der Merwe said the conditions in South Africa make for a "far more even contest." That statement could apply to the duel between bat and ball, and the one between the IPL teams and the rest.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jay on October 17, 2012, 14:30 GMT

    @OzWally: The same can be said about your good old Aussie batsmen. They can't play spin bowling one bit. To a certain extent only Warner and Watson can play spin out of God knows how many in Australia. So I say why not keep the CLT20 in SA all the time. At least in that way, the IPL teams can be stopped from dominating. I am a critic of the IPL teams myself but I ain't no fool at the same time to think that the non-Asian teams are MASTERS in the subcontinent. The reality is far from that.

  • Anthony on October 17, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    I for one am loving this. I'd lamented earlier how the CLT20 was unfairly weighted towards the IPL teams (with the number of "outsiders" they can play), but lo and behold the Indian batsmen haven't let me down. No sub-con pitches - no fight for the battle.

  • Hari on October 17, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    Can any one help me on these question? 1. When is the last time M Vijay scored 30 or plus runs confidently (not scratchy) even in Indian pitches. 2. When is the last 3 continuous matches time Viru dominated bowlers more than 6 overs? 3. When is the last 3 continuous match Sachin played confidently against any blowers? 3. When is the last time Indian bowlers challenged batsmen (except few T20s)?

    India has many talents, but BCCI wants Star players so that they can make more money

  • Jay on October 17, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    While I am an open critic of the IPL teams, Firdose is conveniently forgetting the sorry nature of these SA and other non-Asian teams in the subcontinent. The last CLT20, the SA teams went home early. What can she say about that ? So YEAH ! the conditions are heavily in favour of the SA and AUS teams. Both nations love pace and bounce. It's basic history, you don't have to be a PhD to see through that. A meaningless article out of nowhere. The fact remains, everybody benefits from INDIAN money, our tax payers' money ! It doesn't hurt to be a little thankful does it ?

  • Jay on October 17, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    There is absolutely NO problem with the IPL or the CLT20. The problem is in the minds of people, especially here on Cricinfo. I feel the IPL and CLT20 are the BEST things to happen to world cricket after Packer's revolution in the late 70s. The problem lies with the BCCI. They have no vision, no innovation and no planning. Add to that, the sub servant, lethargic, and static culture of India, and you have a great recipe for disaster. To begin with, the pitches back in India need to be altered to provide good practice to Indian players. Flat pitches with 60m boundaries are not really a challenge even to a school kid. Secondly, Indian cricketers are tagged as flat track bullies. If such a name has to go, then the pitches should be bowler friendly. I know it's not easy to make Indian pitches behave like Australian or SA ones. However, the attempt is worth a try. If SL can do it, so can India. Lastly, the CLT20 should do away with 4 IPL teams. Problem solved.

  • Paramesh on October 17, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    Also goes to show how biased the tournament rules are towards India with 4 teams having direct entry. Really can't call it champions league when 4 teams of 10 are from India & remaining except for SA & Aus have to play qualifiers for just 2 spots. As for Dhoni his magic for India & CSK seems to be waning. He seems to be running out of ideas and his batting is only working in patches. It is also ironical that IPL has provided tremendous opportunities to many Indian players to showcase their talent but unfortunately only very few have been able to go beyond IPL, however 100s have benefitted financially. On the contrary IPL has done more good for the foreign players. Some of the big & small overseas names were paid far less than Indian players but they seemed to have gained better exposure and are thriving on the shorter format of the game while the Indian team has not gone past the Super 8s in T20 World Cup after IPL started.

  • Paramesh on October 17, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    The article is well written and aptly summarizes the fairy tale of IPL teams. It is a real sorry state of affairs that the IPL teams have not been able to win even one game so far even against unfancied teams/qualifiers. Highveld Lions have turned out to be giant killers even when the pre-match reports suggested that MI & CSK will win with ease. At this rate it would not be surprising if none of the IPL teams are in the last four. It seems to be a familiar story as it is happening with the National team not being able to adapt to pacey & bouncy tracks. IPL teams have players from Australia and South Africa still as a unit they have not been able to familiarize to the SA conditions.

  • John on October 17, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Am I the only one who was shocked that Michael Hussey missed the CSK second game?

  • Ross on October 17, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Great pun I heard: "The pitches aren't up to the IPL standard, it seams."

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Some valid points here Firdose....however, people not used to Indian pitches will obviously find these pitches better..not sure about the "far more even contest" statement from Van Der Merwe, that's like saying only bouncy pitches make for good cricket while spinning pitches devalue the game...but there is no disguising the fact that the IPL sides play like someone who's had too much of cricket....remember, IPL sides have played in SA before, and did better last time....the problem is that these players are running after money to the extent that there is not time to rest and get practice....a great extent is Sehwag, who mysteriously gets better in 2 days when a big tournament is coming up....hope I am wrong, but I see some disastrous times ahead for IPL and even the Indian team, with this attitude....

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