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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Innovations in the IPL2

The IPL2 has seen the return of quite a few innovations in the last week. Innovations that were introduced by captains in previous ODI matches that had been successful or path-breaking even, during the yester years. A look at some of them is what we have tried below.

Opening the bowling with a spinner. This was first introduced by Martin Crowe during the 1992 World Cup in Australia/New Zealand. He opened the bowling with Dipak Patel, thereby reducing the pace of the ball. Batsmen who had made up their mind to face the quicks were shocked by the lack of pace. This option was successful in getting the star-less Kiwis to the Semi-finals of the World Cup, where the individual brilliance of Inzamam-ul-Haq brought them down. In IPL2, the matches are held much after the domestic season has been completed - this has ensured that the pitches are dry and favor the slower bowlers. No wonder then, the captains of the franchisees have recalled this innovation and used it to a great extent. In fact, Kevin Pietersen went a step further by opening the bowling with 2 spinners (himself and Van Der Merwe) in the match against Kolkata.

Opening with a dibbly-dobbly bowler. An extension of the previous idea - this was tried out by West Indies in the 1992 World Cup when Phil Simmons used to open the bowling along side Curtley Ambrose. The difference in pace at both ends would unsettle the batsmen to an extent that run-making would go down drastically. Though this trick was not very successful, the career of Simmons was extended because of this utility. Shane Warne used this option to bring in Dimitri Mascarenhas with the new ball. He has been quite successful in all his matches in the IPL2.

Making a batsman keep wickets. This option was well tried out by the Indian team during the 2003 World Cup, before the MS Dhoni era. Rahul Dravid, who had kept wickets in early days of his career, was asked to keep wickets so that the team could play the extra spinner. This was one of the ideas that came out of the collective thinking of Sourav Ganguly and John Wright. The Indian team reached the World Cup finals with this strategy, so successful it was. The Bangalore Challengers tried the same by asking Robin Uthappa to don the keeping gloves during the initial days. Though it was not successful, it was an idea that was well worth the try.

Pinch-hitter. This was a fad that started way back in the 1987 World Cup when Craig Mcdermott was sent up the order by Allan Border to hit some quick runs. Soon, other countries followed by having their non-regular batsman come at a time they were least expected. Chetan Sharma was one example who did so well that he won the match for India by scoring a century. This was not seen for the last few years as every team strengthened their composition with batsmen who were aggressive from the word go. This IPL, Shaun Pollock has introduced Harbhajan Singh in couple of matches as the pinch-hitter to get some quick runs - again an experiment that has returned mediocre success.

Shane Warne has been coming up with innovative ideas in this IPL that are quite his own original ones - especially, the demotion of Yusuf Pathan. Yusuf has been delayed to the last minute possible, thereby giving him a license to throw his bat around for maximum destruction. The trick has worked every time and the Rajasthan team is slowly inching its way to the top half of the table from its disastrous beginning.

Surely, the IPL2 has seen the birth as well as re-birth of various innovations that will be used by the participating nations in the T20 World Cup. Now, isnt it worth waiting for?
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