Deccan Chargers v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, Kimberley May 11, 2009

Deccan benefit as Smith and Vaas prove their point

Dwayne Smith hadn't played the last game and Chaminda Vaas hadn't played at all this season but Deccan dropped Herschelle Gibbs, off colour after starting the tournament in a fury, and Ryan Harris, and reaped the benefits of their bold gamble

Deccan Chargers made two changes for this game and it changed their fortunes. Dwayne Smith hadn't played the last game and Chaminda Vaas hadn't played at all this season but Deccan bit the bullet and dropped Herschelle Gibbs, off colour after starting the tournament in a fury, and Ryan Harris, and reaped the benefits of their bold gamble.

Smith, with 214 runs at 30.57 and a strike rate of 164.61 this IPL, has shown the world and the WICB selectors what he can do. Actually, everyone knows what he can do; it's what he does in the middle - or not - that has thrilled and infuriated Caribbean fans. After a immensely promising debut, where he smashed a Test hundred against South Africa in South Africa, he has slowly let himself go the way of Ricardo Powell.

His script was simple: Flashy big hits, a thrilling six and an adrenalin-fuelled dismissal. Far too often he would get cleaned up by the full delivery or hole out to mid-on or mid-off, trying to force the length ball over the infield; no wonder he was nicknamed "Tarzan" in the Caribbean. Worse, he seemed to repeat his mistakes, unable to check the bat swing that starts slightly too early. Today, he played himself in, playing with soft hands and, importantly, showing immense wisdom in shot selection.

It was much later that he unfurled his trademark swings over midwicket and long-on to push Hyderabad to a defendable total. It was an innings that highlighted his steady improvement from those early days. Through this tournament, he has spoken about his commitment and desire to get a call back to the West Indies team and has, importantly, admitted his mistakes in the past. If the first step towards solving a problem is admitting you have one, Smith has taken some giant strides.

After the match, he revealed his gameplan. "All I wanted to do was keep playing straight, get singles and get to the end to have a blast." It's too early to say whether Smith Version 2 has arrived but it's very possibly in the beta stage. Asked about the fact that he seems to have got bit more methodical in his hitting, he pointed to his Sussex stint last year as the turning point - where, he said, his county coaches helped out with his mental transformation.

If Smith's is a story of a man trying to forget his past, Vaas is a man desperate to show he doesn't belong in the past. This IPL was threatening to go the same way as his international limited-overs career has been unravelling. The Sri Lankan think-tank wants to look beyond Vaas and build for the future but the man refuses to fade away.

Today, he got his first game in the IPL and he delivered. First ball. He trapped Smith with a delivery shaping in and, though it might have hit the batsman high, Vaas cashed in on his appeal. What a pressure-relieving moment it must have been, even for such an experienced campaigner. A little later, after a series of deliveries that strangled Lee Carseldine, he had him stumped by an alert Gilchrist. Swapnil Asnodkar tried to go after him but never found the ball in the slot.

Typical Vaas. He might have lost pace but his skills have actually improved with age. The inswing has got better, he learned reverse swing and mastered the variations of pace beautifully. Today, he deployed his repertoire to almost kill the chase even before the Powerplays ended. Smith and Vaas have created more selection headaches for Gilchrist - but he's unlikely to reach for the aspirin.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dwight on May 12, 2009, 21:42 GMT

    *Vaas the chance for 417 wickets for 3rd all-time

  • Dwight on May 12, 2009, 21:36 GMT

    Chaminda Vaas is known as Sri Lanka's greatest pace bowler for a reason, he simply outwits his opponents with variations, swing and changes in speed. As said in a previous comment SL selectors in the past have ruined the relationship between them and SL legends such as Aravinda De Silva and Marvan Attapatu ending their careers on a sour note and are close to doing the same with Vaas, although he has been out of the line-up for awhile he has shown in his limited appearances that he still has what it take to be effective and i hope he finds his way back onto the national ODI squad and is given the opourtunity to reach 416 wickets for fourth all-time as well as end his career on a high note.

  • Nigel on May 12, 2009, 12:02 GMT

    Dwayne Smith could become Jesus overnight, and still will not figure in Windies cricket future. I said it before in this forum, as early as when the Wisden trophy changed hands in March; West Indies selectors would ensure that the captain is given the barest cupboard of talent to work with (e.g. Xavier Marshall gets another free trip to England for the World 20 after DISMAL failure regionally). All those holding out hope for the futuristic Phoenix like rise of the WI will be more likely to to find success looking for eggs of that legendary bird elsewhere.

  • Yohan on May 12, 2009, 6:51 GMT

    Chaminda vaas has been a noble servant of Sri Lankan cricket during last 15 years. His poor form in recent times and emerging of youngsters resulted his loosing his place. Still he has a lots of cricket in him and deserves a respectable ending to his career. hope IPL would help him to get back to track.

  • Ash on May 12, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    It's wonderful to see Vaas hitting his stride so easily after months of inaction. He might not have much pace, but he's got variation, guile and experience a-plenty, and is quite frankly streets ahead of the likes of Nuwan Kulasekara and Thilan Thushara in terms of class (and doesn't get all his wickets against weak opposition either!).

    I hope he continues to perform well for the Deccan Chargers and put the Sri Lankan selectors to shame!

  • Sampath on May 12, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    This should be an eye opener for SriLankan selectors. Good example to understand that the form is temporary & the class is eternal. SL selectors ruined the whole carrier of batting legend Aravinda De Silva by keeping him out of the team for 2 years & let's hope they do not do the same thing for Vaas. Sampath Perera.KC.Colombo, SL.

  • suman on May 12, 2009, 1:34 GMT

    May be this is the perfect team for DC

  • Tyrone on May 11, 2009, 21:56 GMT

    It is good to see that Dwayne Smith is maturing, for a very long time he has failed to fulfill the great promise he showed at his debut, but what is also clear is that the West Indies Coaches who worked with Smith were innefective in helping to temper his wild swings of the bat, it is also difficult to understand why the West Indian selectors have left him out of their world cup 20/20 squad. I hope that his growth will continue however and not just be a 20/20 player but a great test player.

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