Rajasthan v Chennai, IPL 2013, Jaipur May 12, 2013

Saving the best for the last

Holding back the best batsman has been a common strategy in Twenty20. It worked tonight, but its merits are open to debate
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For all the flashy hitting involved, Twenty20 remains a largely pessimistic sport. Morne Morkel doesn't get the first over at Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals protect Shane Watson from the new ball on a testing pitch, at Kings XI Punjab David Miller has often been left batting with lesser batsmen, MS Dhoni doesn't want to come in to bat if there are more than 10 overs remaining, and Mumbai Indians' misuse of Kieron Pollard is now well documented. They are all better cricketers than that.

Captaining India, Dhoni once made the bold move of playing just six specialist batsmen - which should on paper be enough in a 20-over game - and immediately countered it by sending Irfan Pathan to open the innings. He gave himself that extended warranty of a batsman at No. 7, but that No. 7 sat and saw Irfan eat up 30 crucial deliveries for just 31 runs.

You feared Rajasthan Royals were doing just that in their final home game of the season. Chasing 142, they were tested by some good seam bowling at the top. Ajinkya Rahane fell to it, and you moved a little towards the edge of your seat to see how Watson would cope with it. Out came James Faulkner. The pinch-hitting experiment failed soon, you leaned forward again, but you saw Sanju Samson coming out. In a crucial chase, when you want your best batsman to face as many balls as possible, Watson was not to be seen until the third wicket fell. It was a good thing these three batsmen got out early and didn't waste too many deliveries, but the asking rate had already crossed eight. Soon it would nudge 10 an over.

Rahul Dravid, the captain in this instance, will tell you it was all tactics. And Dravid is no defensive captain. There is no way he would have sent in a lesser batsman to face the best bowling in a Test match, a nightwatchman being the only exception. "It was a kind of wicket where we knew we needed to backend our batting," Dravid said. "And the fact that they had a couple of spinners we needed to target. I wouldn't say we got the batting order wrong.

"We didn't play the first 10 overs particularly well. I would have liked a few more runs in the first 10. Forty-nine for four isn't good enough, but we are lucky we had someone like Watson there in the end and Stuart Binny as well."

A stunning assault from Watson and Binny, a period of five overs that went for 81, brought Royals a comfortable win in the end. And as Dravid had planned, a spinner - R Ashwin, the best in India - was successfully targeted. However, Royals are a bit of an exception: they don't have the best of batting resources, and need insurance towards the end. Royal Challengers Bangalore don't have similar concerns with Chris Gayle because they have Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers following him.

That allowance made, you still wonder if Watson is not good enough a batsman to have played proper cricket against the better of Chennai Super Kings' quicks. Wasn't leaving all the eggs in Watson's basket a risk in itself? Why doesn't Dhoni, one of the best chasers in ODI cricket, bat early with Dwayne Bravo, S Badrinath, plus Albie Morkel at times, to follow him? In the match that Miller won Kings XI Punjab with a crazy hundred, his third fifty-plus score in a row, he came in to bat in the 10th over.

The only plausible explanation for it is, you want your best batsmen to play with a mind that is not muddled with building an innings and pondering the consequences. It's not the number in the order that matters, but the number of overs remaining when they come in to bat. Somewhere deep inside, they want to take out the fear of being bowled out. That's 10 wickets in 20 overs. To think of that is pessimistic. It messes around with normal cricket.

In a bottom-line world, the success and failure of a strategy is determined by the ultimate result. It obviously worked tonight with Dravid holding Watson back. It failed when Dhoni opened with Irfan to have a cover for a cover. It failed when Kings XI had Manan Vohra and David Hussey batting ahead of a clearly in-form Miller who was left almost stranded against Mumbai Indians.

It's a young sport still. We can't fully know the dynamics of these decisions because the pressures on the field are different. The captains are pondering these things as they go. Until then, just the thought that there can be a variant of cricket where you don't want to give your best cricketers to play the most part in the game is fascinating enough. After all these games aren't quite played on the sticky dogs that once made Don Bradman invert his batting order.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on May 12, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Sometimes it is hard to understand Dhoni's/CSK think tank's obstinacy of not changing the team, albeit presumably, coz they do not want to upset the winning combination - sometimes you need to get horses for courses. Though it may appear like an after thought, I really wondered what was Ashiwn going to achieve in the playing 11 at Jaipur. The pitch has proven six times this IPL that it is pace friendly and Dhoni should have picked Ankit Rajpoot instead of Ashwin. One may tend to blame Ashwin for the turn of events (in fact it is true to some extent) but actually he could not have done anything to stop Watson. It was like they were waiting for either Ashwin or Jadeja and either of them would have got hit...If CSK beats DD on 14th, it is curtains down for either RCB or SRH provided RR & MI win at least one more match. However, there are many combinations still possible..My play-off prediction with points standing is as below: MI - 24, CSK - 22, RCB - 20, SRH - 20 & RR - 20..

  • crindex on May 14, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Even Mike Hussey as fifth bowling option with his medium pace would have won the match for Chennai. Such was that pitch in Jaipur - a typical pacy one.

  • sgd120 on May 14, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    I think it is important to understand the 2 different mindsets. Lance Klusener, who one could say was ideally suited to T20 had it been played in his time, was particularly good at the end of the innings, with the run rate running at 8 to 10. When he was promoted and he started batting higher, he would just nudge the ball around for a while, and then you found that the run rate was as high anyway. People like Sehwag are really rare, who can continuously attack irrespective of the match situation. In Sehwag's case, there is no issue with mindset, but when the ball is moving around, even the best of the best are vulnerable. As a team, one has to proactively think of how the batting order ought to be in each game, nothing ought to be etched in stone. However, CSK do need to rethink about heir utilisation of Albie, and Badri. Both have been disappointing this season, Badri has had plenty of opportunities as well.

  • coldcoffee123 on May 13, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Do not get carried away by one successful performance. The move to hold back Watson, Hodge nearly backfired big time. As Watson himself said later, he was lucky that everything clicked. He will not be successful to pull off the chase every time he has to score 90 off 45 balls. Just like Dhoni can't win every time he leaves 40 runs off the last 12 balls. Miller has failed after his 101 off 38 balls. So, use some sense, and stop extolling every little positive happening.

  • on May 13, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Obviously we are seeing a trend where teams want their best batsman to be in at the end of an innings, a trend which I'm not sure is a consequence of or a reason for a huge number of runs being scored in 5-6 overs at the end. 60 runs are being routinely plundered in the last 5, so much so that teams really don't seem to mind being, say 100 for 4 at the end of 15 overs, confident that they can still post 160+.

    In my opinion, holding your best man back to do the business at the end is putting a positive spin on what I perceive as an essentially negative tactic. I believe captains want to be safe in the knowledge that a Watson or a Miller is still back in the hut waiting to come out. They are safeguarding against getting their best man out early, which is a defensive mindset. They would rather go into the 11th over at 60-4 with Watson coming in, rather than 80-2 with Watson out. Psychologically, there would be less pressure on a Samson or a Vohra when Watson or Miller is coming in next.

  • GihanW on May 13, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Strategy wise i think it would have been better to send watson ahead of sanju sampson. watson is a brilliant player, but he is used to play at the top. he may be psychologically affected when he sees that many wickets have gone down. also it would mean that there is added security of sanju, binny and hodge who will follow after watson in case he fails!!

  • remnant on May 13, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    But even Bradman inverted his batting order and sent lower order batsmen for a similar purpose. The wicket was almost unplayable and he wanted the lower order batsmen to eat up as many deliveries as possible, before the conditions eased, and regular batsmen steer the match, to a win, which they did. Cricketing formats have changed, but the tactics are not new. They have all been tried, unless you are talking about three no balls being bowled as per a captain's wish!

  • Alexk400 on May 13, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    20/20 is more like Blitz chess. You have lots of resources in 20 overs. You just have to find right match up. I think what dravid did brilliant. 20/20 is about winning not who score more. No individual stat record in sloggathon is glorified like in TEST. I think most writers in cricinfo has no knowledge of match up. Some players are good against spin and pace or against particular bowler. So you have to find the ODD matchups if every thing else broke. If you have more better matchup , you have chance to win. We saw samuels kill malinga in t20 worldcup. Very rarely malinga get hit. So you have to find players who play malinga against Mumbai team. You win most games if you find better match up with each team. Its rational thinking. You see this often in NFL. One game a Defensive end has many sacks..you expect him every week like that performance but it do not happen until he find a weaker offensive line. Most times it work if you analyse. Actually i am good at matchup analysis.

  • Tru_Cricket_Fan on May 13, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @Deepak Shankar: Agreed, CSK made a tactical error last game by playing an extra spinner and not taking enough risks. But I disagree with you about the match against RCB. It was RCB's match to lose, poor umpiring gave Virat a second life, plus he didn't walk. If you want to be India's future captain, have some honor and dignity. If the same thing had happened in Mumbai, I am sure the crowd would have given him some choice words. CSK has won 5 out of 7 matches away, how many has RCB won? RR defeated CSK comprehensively, other games that CSK lost were due to complacency rather than poor tactics, on the flip side look at all the CSK games, there has not even been a single ugly incident.

  • cricanalyst05 on May 13, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    Have to quote upton " There is a big difference between someone playing for themselves and with a fear of failure and those just excited about making a contribution to the success of the team". Well said

  • on May 12, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Sometimes it is hard to understand Dhoni's/CSK think tank's obstinacy of not changing the team, albeit presumably, coz they do not want to upset the winning combination - sometimes you need to get horses for courses. Though it may appear like an after thought, I really wondered what was Ashiwn going to achieve in the playing 11 at Jaipur. The pitch has proven six times this IPL that it is pace friendly and Dhoni should have picked Ankit Rajpoot instead of Ashwin. One may tend to blame Ashwin for the turn of events (in fact it is true to some extent) but actually he could not have done anything to stop Watson. It was like they were waiting for either Ashwin or Jadeja and either of them would have got hit...If CSK beats DD on 14th, it is curtains down for either RCB or SRH provided RR & MI win at least one more match. However, there are many combinations still possible..My play-off prediction with points standing is as below: MI - 24, CSK - 22, RCB - 20, SRH - 20 & RR - 20..

  • crindex on May 14, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    Even Mike Hussey as fifth bowling option with his medium pace would have won the match for Chennai. Such was that pitch in Jaipur - a typical pacy one.

  • sgd120 on May 14, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    I think it is important to understand the 2 different mindsets. Lance Klusener, who one could say was ideally suited to T20 had it been played in his time, was particularly good at the end of the innings, with the run rate running at 8 to 10. When he was promoted and he started batting higher, he would just nudge the ball around for a while, and then you found that the run rate was as high anyway. People like Sehwag are really rare, who can continuously attack irrespective of the match situation. In Sehwag's case, there is no issue with mindset, but when the ball is moving around, even the best of the best are vulnerable. As a team, one has to proactively think of how the batting order ought to be in each game, nothing ought to be etched in stone. However, CSK do need to rethink about heir utilisation of Albie, and Badri. Both have been disappointing this season, Badri has had plenty of opportunities as well.

  • coldcoffee123 on May 13, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Do not get carried away by one successful performance. The move to hold back Watson, Hodge nearly backfired big time. As Watson himself said later, he was lucky that everything clicked. He will not be successful to pull off the chase every time he has to score 90 off 45 balls. Just like Dhoni can't win every time he leaves 40 runs off the last 12 balls. Miller has failed after his 101 off 38 balls. So, use some sense, and stop extolling every little positive happening.

  • on May 13, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Obviously we are seeing a trend where teams want their best batsman to be in at the end of an innings, a trend which I'm not sure is a consequence of or a reason for a huge number of runs being scored in 5-6 overs at the end. 60 runs are being routinely plundered in the last 5, so much so that teams really don't seem to mind being, say 100 for 4 at the end of 15 overs, confident that they can still post 160+.

    In my opinion, holding your best man back to do the business at the end is putting a positive spin on what I perceive as an essentially negative tactic. I believe captains want to be safe in the knowledge that a Watson or a Miller is still back in the hut waiting to come out. They are safeguarding against getting their best man out early, which is a defensive mindset. They would rather go into the 11th over at 60-4 with Watson coming in, rather than 80-2 with Watson out. Psychologically, there would be less pressure on a Samson or a Vohra when Watson or Miller is coming in next.

  • GihanW on May 13, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    Strategy wise i think it would have been better to send watson ahead of sanju sampson. watson is a brilliant player, but he is used to play at the top. he may be psychologically affected when he sees that many wickets have gone down. also it would mean that there is added security of sanju, binny and hodge who will follow after watson in case he fails!!

  • remnant on May 13, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    But even Bradman inverted his batting order and sent lower order batsmen for a similar purpose. The wicket was almost unplayable and he wanted the lower order batsmen to eat up as many deliveries as possible, before the conditions eased, and regular batsmen steer the match, to a win, which they did. Cricketing formats have changed, but the tactics are not new. They have all been tried, unless you are talking about three no balls being bowled as per a captain's wish!

  • Alexk400 on May 13, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    20/20 is more like Blitz chess. You have lots of resources in 20 overs. You just have to find right match up. I think what dravid did brilliant. 20/20 is about winning not who score more. No individual stat record in sloggathon is glorified like in TEST. I think most writers in cricinfo has no knowledge of match up. Some players are good against spin and pace or against particular bowler. So you have to find the ODD matchups if every thing else broke. If you have more better matchup , you have chance to win. We saw samuels kill malinga in t20 worldcup. Very rarely malinga get hit. So you have to find players who play malinga against Mumbai team. You win most games if you find better match up with each team. Its rational thinking. You see this often in NFL. One game a Defensive end has many sacks..you expect him every week like that performance but it do not happen until he find a weaker offensive line. Most times it work if you analyse. Actually i am good at matchup analysis.

  • Tru_Cricket_Fan on May 13, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @Deepak Shankar: Agreed, CSK made a tactical error last game by playing an extra spinner and not taking enough risks. But I disagree with you about the match against RCB. It was RCB's match to lose, poor umpiring gave Virat a second life, plus he didn't walk. If you want to be India's future captain, have some honor and dignity. If the same thing had happened in Mumbai, I am sure the crowd would have given him some choice words. CSK has won 5 out of 7 matches away, how many has RCB won? RR defeated CSK comprehensively, other games that CSK lost were due to complacency rather than poor tactics, on the flip side look at all the CSK games, there has not even been a single ugly incident.

  • cricanalyst05 on May 13, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    Have to quote upton " There is a big difference between someone playing for themselves and with a fear of failure and those just excited about making a contribution to the success of the team". Well said

  • on May 13, 2013, 11:56 GMT

    @RL Narayana Nallapa I could not resist myself from laughing at your comment.Your comment saying that it was Dhoni's tactics to gift the game shows your sheer knowledge of the game.By loosing this game csk have put more pressure on self rather than it being a master stroke.In all probability csk may not even end up on the top 2 even if they qualify for the play off's they have 2 games left one is against a team which has nothing to loose DD if DD play with nothing to loose attitude and if their batting clicks csk would be doomed.next game against RCB who have not dropped a match at home and given the fire power they have and a must win scenario they are in it is going to hard to beat them.If you remember csk vs rcb at chennai it was due to that noball that csk won and luck doesnt favor you always so pray and hope csk stays in contention for play off rather than making such dumb comments

  • on May 13, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    my applauds goes to the captain Mr. Dravid. He is experienced well enough and lucky for rajasthan royals to have captains like share warne and now the roaring captain, the indian wall, Dravid who is leading in front with the minimum resources he is having. shane warne also did the same. Great mental power is used here, dravid learned the pitch & the game well, want to give less pressure for watson and dravid used watson well. all credits to dravid, his plans have moved well until now. If rajasthan is winning the matches, the credit full goes to Dravid only. if so thats the captaining intelligent & planning strategy of Dravid, the well known reader of cricket game.

  • on May 13, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    I sometimes wonder, more often than not, T20 cricket especially IPL played more with tactics to yield good results rather thn just wit talent alone. Its d intent of d player tht could be decisive in d end, not just reputation. When IPL started, CSK hardly had any reputed local players apart from Dhoni & Raina. But then Vijay, Ashwin, now Mohit Sharma r quite a revelation now, n they made it 2 play-offs in all d IPL editions so far. Unlike CSK, Mumbai Indians r always star-studded from d inception, but still they r searching for their first IPL title. So d difference is obvious.

    I couldn't agree with d theory tht your best batsman has to face as many balls as possible. See Sachin, he has never been as authoritative & intelligent enough as his reputation suggests while batting, invariably putting pressure on d middle order by failing to give gud starts. So Dravid's decision 2 shield Watson is not just 2 hav a cover for a cover, rather it's a tactic tht eventually winning games for them.

  • on May 13, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Yeasterday CSK gifted the match to RR from the begaining, they want to play RR in the play off which is a weak opponent then MI and RCB. it is good stratagy by Dhoni to gift the match to RR and give them 2 points to finish along with them 1 & 2. Mr. Dhoni you are very clever.

  • on May 13, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    If you look carefully, RR has been the only team at the top of the table since the tournament began. Those with RR in the early part of the tournament have gone down the list and CSk and MI made it to the top of the table 2-3 weeks ago. RR is a consistent team.

    They play as a unit. There is always someone in that list of the playing eleven ready to pitch in when asked of. Yesterday it was Watson, another day it would be Samson or the bowlers.

    Dravid has had a great run this year, they have delivered in all three departments and with two tough games to go, this team, that has found many followers, I surly know will put up a show that will once again get us coming here and posting thoughts of how great they really are.

    GO RR, YOU have earned the respect of the whole nation.

  • thinkgood on May 13, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Dravid outsmarted Dhoni on 3 points :

    1. Getting 5 medium pace / fast bowler in place of spinners. There were no spinners in RR for this game - while Dhoni had 2 specialist spinners (Ashwin and Jadeja) in his XI and both failed miserably.

    2. Placing a silly point for Dhoni - when Cooper bowled .

    3. Dravid let his game changer - Watson come don the order instead of Dhoni himself coming up the order where he failed.

    Dravid outsmarted Dhoni in these 3 points and won the game. Dravid showed he can also be a shrewd captain just like Dhoni is. Wha ta great game it was - a game of strategies and captaincy skills.

  • on May 13, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    Not sure the author goes through this comments are not! but here I say U r wrong Sid, As the new ball was absolutely seaming well RR doesn't have good seamers So hussey and vijay managed score runs at slow run rate. coming to CSK seaming attack it is brilliant decision to backup watson as he is the ly man who can change the innings at anytime, it doesn't mean watson can't play those seaming bowling attack, but what happens if we lose watson ahead of samson or dravid. may be CSK have pulled back the innings to last ball despite the result it would be close finish. Sending Faulkner is testing one where brave captains would try. If he have got some runs its prize to the team, if not just a number count to the wicket column...

  • on May 13, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Watson and Binny played amazing cricket but you have to give credit to the Great Rahul Dravid. Sharma and Holder bowled a menacing 7 over spell. Field was inside the circle. It was difficult to take singles. You don't want your ace Watson to come out in such pressured situation, unable to take singles, playing 4-5 dot balls, succumbing to pressure and getting out trying to enforce the pace. It was great tactic to save the big hitters for the last. It wasn't a 180-190 run target. It was merely 140, and they obviously backed Watson, binny and Hodge to score 80-100 runs in last 8 overs if need be. Great captaincy by RD

  • on May 13, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Watto is such an impact player. RRR dropped down from 10 to 2 within just 4 overs! RR is such an amazing unit. But they must win their next 2 games just to make themselves confident that they are well enough when they play out of Jaipur.

    @Rohit Malaviya Your calculation is also wrong brother. RCB(now 16 points) have to play one of its remaining game against CSK(20 points). Only 1 team can win it, right? Hence CSK getting 24 points with RCB making it to 20 points is not at all possible.

  • venkatesh018 on May 13, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    So building an innings even in T20 is a laborious task for the best of players. So, how will the future Indian generations brought upon IPL will cope in overseas conditions?

  • satish.n on May 13, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    Ha ha.. I simply cannot take this anymore... So many comments saying RR would be at 20 points at the end of the league... R u guys so dumb!!! And more over CSK have won so many last ball games purely out of sheer luck... still DD and RCB to show them their RIGHT place... hope SRH wins today and RR wins the next one against MI and the last one against SRH.. that would make it really interesting with MI, RCB, SRH ad CSK all tied at 20 points..

  • on May 13, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    It was absolute carnage from watto.It was spicy in the beginning but in the end it was easy.Hope chennai can win against RCB atleast.Can't keep losing away game we might miss the first and second .....

  • rashmil09 on May 13, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    I largely disagree with the whole article, Watson struggled in the early part on his innings. Stuart Binny came at a time when the ball wasn't picking up as much spice from the wicket as it did earlier. I felt CSK started brilliantly, Dhoni and Raina failed to capitalize on the easier second half. And Pollard? How many times has he got the opportunity in the first 10 and failed? Everyone's better than their game, but in T20 you got to give your best in the phase you play.

  • Thyagu5432 on May 13, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    Can't believe CSK didn't even hit one six. Can't believe none of the CSK batsmen picked up the slower deliveries that RR bowlers dished one after another (and so it was no secret what the next ball was going to be). Can't believe Ashwin has forgotten how to bowl in T20 matches. Can't believe our pacers hardly bowled any yorkers (when that was the one that got Watson in the end). Amidst so many "Can't believes" what I strongly believe is that this shock defeat will ensure no more shocks to CSK till they lift the title.

  • SudiptaS on May 13, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    @rohit malviya : The prediction is possible, and also probable, as MI has matches against comparatively weaker teams left. However, IMO, it would be MI-24, CSK-24, RR-20. The last one, I hope is RCB, though SRH is also a possibility.

  • muski on May 13, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    Most decisions are right or wrong in life only by hindsight. Ask the so called Stock market analyst and they will tell you that. Are you kidding to say that Watson was held back so that he would not be lost to Holder or Sharma or Martin. If that logic is good, would the guy who took this decision know that Samson would have been a sitting duck and he had no clue as to what was happening. Its another issue that Watson fired. Mallya must be watching Sutart Binny closely. He is head and heels over the Dud Tiwary and is not too pricey too.

  • ravi_hari on May 13, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    I think these acts have to be seen individually. I feel the reason why Watson, Hodge and Binny were held back was becasue they were chasing a comparitively low target - 142. On the same ground they have chased down 150+ scores easily in the past 3 to 4 matches. So they would have thought this was the best opportunity to give the youngsters a chance to deliver at the top. Also the confidence of being unbeated at SMS this season would have prompted them to take this decision. The pitch condition also could have played a part as loosing big wickets early would hamper the chase. When you need to score at 7 an over, the confidence of having big hitters like Watson, Binny and Hodge coming in late makes the chase that much easier. One of the reasons why RR was successful was due to MSD's miscaluculation. He should have kept his seamers to bowl more to Watson, Binny and Hodge. Instead by the time they came in, seamers had very few overs left. Watson and Binny grabbed the opportunity well.

  • saini786 on May 13, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    Although it is a new game, but look at this scenario, you are chasing a whopping target of 190 and you target just one bowler and take him for 60-70 runs in his 4 overs. That means you need to score only7- 8 runs an over off the rest of the bowlers which is by no means a tough. That is how all intelligent teams are working. All you need to do is pick your target for the day depending upon pitch conditions. Bravo Dravid, you did exactly what was required for the chase. Good luck RR

  • himanshu.team on May 13, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    I think the author here is trying to be too simplistic in saying that the best batsmen must face maximum overs. RR on this pitch needed a sound opening partnership. Rahane and Dravid are clearly the bext openers available to RR. If they were chasing 200 plus, then Watto may have opened as it required hitting from ball 1. That was not the case here. Moreover, RR have quality batsmen that can play good support roles: Binny, Samson and Yagnik can all support by either hitting from one end or holding that end. If still none of these work they have a very good finisher of the game in Hodge. In hindsight, you may argue that Faulkner should have been held back, but it was worth a try knowing fully well that you have Samson, Binny, Watson, Hodge, Yagnik and Kooper in the side too. All in all, a good plan that worked despite initial setbacks.

  • on May 13, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    @Vijay Kumar Natarajan Though I agree with your comment, I do not concur with your playoff prediction. You must be a Mumbai fan - you think they are going to win all the remaining matches. And you think RR would win none? My prediction: CSK - 24, MI and RR - 22, SRH and RCB - 20

  • Hook_Shot on May 13, 2013, 2:59 GMT

    After reading this article, it is clear why the writer is the only a critic and I am only a reader. It was a fantastic decision to play Watson late, those who don't recognize that clearly do not understand T20 and think that it is a test match or ODI where the best batsman has to face the most balls. Yeh T20 hai boss, one needs to focus on which 5 overs to target. There is no such thing as building an innings. Those saying Gayle is able to build an innings blah blah need to realize that that is why he is Gayle - one of a kind.

  • IndiaGoats on May 13, 2013, 1:12 GMT

    While Faulkner at 3 or 4 is unproven, Samson has proved to be a safe bet over the last several games. It is debatable whether it is better to save for the last or to give the best batsman the most balls. But RR has developed such a reliable and deep bench (Hodge still to bat) and the top 6 has invariably carried the game for them that I think Rahul can afford to make a few tactical adjustments and surprises.

  • on May 12, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    You are right. Any combination is possible. Any of the teams except Delhi and Pune can make it to Top 4. Chennai and RR are almost in due to SRH run-rate being much lower at this stage. But, anything is indeed possible.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on May 12, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    The strategy was to make Watson not play moving newish ball and at the same time have him play the spinners. Also, they sent two able batsmen - Faulkner was most likely instructed not to waste any ball and Sanju Samson was a good bat who more often that not will be successful in IPL conditions. It didn't pay off as well as they would have liked to ,but it worked to an extent.

    Had Watson come at no. 3 or 4 and got out to Holder/Mishra/Morris early, they would have lost today.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on May 12, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    The strategy was to make Watson not play moving newish ball and at the same time have him play the spinners. Also, they sent two able batsmen - Faulkner was most likely instructed not to waste any ball and Sanju Samson was a good bat who more often that not will be successful in IPL conditions. It didn't pay off as well as they would have liked to ,but it worked to an extent.

    Had Watson come at no. 3 or 4 and got out to Holder/Mishra/Morris early, they would have lost today.

  • on May 12, 2013, 21:00 GMT

    You are right. Any combination is possible. Any of the teams except Delhi and Pune can make it to Top 4. Chennai and RR are almost in due to SRH run-rate being much lower at this stage. But, anything is indeed possible.

  • IndiaGoats on May 13, 2013, 1:12 GMT

    While Faulkner at 3 or 4 is unproven, Samson has proved to be a safe bet over the last several games. It is debatable whether it is better to save for the last or to give the best batsman the most balls. But RR has developed such a reliable and deep bench (Hodge still to bat) and the top 6 has invariably carried the game for them that I think Rahul can afford to make a few tactical adjustments and surprises.

  • Hook_Shot on May 13, 2013, 2:59 GMT

    After reading this article, it is clear why the writer is the only a critic and I am only a reader. It was a fantastic decision to play Watson late, those who don't recognize that clearly do not understand T20 and think that it is a test match or ODI where the best batsman has to face the most balls. Yeh T20 hai boss, one needs to focus on which 5 overs to target. There is no such thing as building an innings. Those saying Gayle is able to build an innings blah blah need to realize that that is why he is Gayle - one of a kind.

  • on May 13, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    @Vijay Kumar Natarajan Though I agree with your comment, I do not concur with your playoff prediction. You must be a Mumbai fan - you think they are going to win all the remaining matches. And you think RR would win none? My prediction: CSK - 24, MI and RR - 22, SRH and RCB - 20

  • himanshu.team on May 13, 2013, 4:03 GMT

    I think the author here is trying to be too simplistic in saying that the best batsmen must face maximum overs. RR on this pitch needed a sound opening partnership. Rahane and Dravid are clearly the bext openers available to RR. If they were chasing 200 plus, then Watto may have opened as it required hitting from ball 1. That was not the case here. Moreover, RR have quality batsmen that can play good support roles: Binny, Samson and Yagnik can all support by either hitting from one end or holding that end. If still none of these work they have a very good finisher of the game in Hodge. In hindsight, you may argue that Faulkner should have been held back, but it was worth a try knowing fully well that you have Samson, Binny, Watson, Hodge, Yagnik and Kooper in the side too. All in all, a good plan that worked despite initial setbacks.

  • saini786 on May 13, 2013, 4:27 GMT

    Although it is a new game, but look at this scenario, you are chasing a whopping target of 190 and you target just one bowler and take him for 60-70 runs in his 4 overs. That means you need to score only7- 8 runs an over off the rest of the bowlers which is by no means a tough. That is how all intelligent teams are working. All you need to do is pick your target for the day depending upon pitch conditions. Bravo Dravid, you did exactly what was required for the chase. Good luck RR

  • ravi_hari on May 13, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    I think these acts have to be seen individually. I feel the reason why Watson, Hodge and Binny were held back was becasue they were chasing a comparitively low target - 142. On the same ground they have chased down 150+ scores easily in the past 3 to 4 matches. So they would have thought this was the best opportunity to give the youngsters a chance to deliver at the top. Also the confidence of being unbeated at SMS this season would have prompted them to take this decision. The pitch condition also could have played a part as loosing big wickets early would hamper the chase. When you need to score at 7 an over, the confidence of having big hitters like Watson, Binny and Hodge coming in late makes the chase that much easier. One of the reasons why RR was successful was due to MSD's miscaluculation. He should have kept his seamers to bowl more to Watson, Binny and Hodge. Instead by the time they came in, seamers had very few overs left. Watson and Binny grabbed the opportunity well.

  • muski on May 13, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    Most decisions are right or wrong in life only by hindsight. Ask the so called Stock market analyst and they will tell you that. Are you kidding to say that Watson was held back so that he would not be lost to Holder or Sharma or Martin. If that logic is good, would the guy who took this decision know that Samson would have been a sitting duck and he had no clue as to what was happening. Its another issue that Watson fired. Mallya must be watching Sutart Binny closely. He is head and heels over the Dud Tiwary and is not too pricey too.

  • SudiptaS on May 13, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    @rohit malviya : The prediction is possible, and also probable, as MI has matches against comparatively weaker teams left. However, IMO, it would be MI-24, CSK-24, RR-20. The last one, I hope is RCB, though SRH is also a possibility.