The failure of the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams in the ongoing Champions League T20 in South Africa has underlined the fact that it requires special gifts and grit to excel on the field in the Rainbow Nation. Leave alone the inexperienced domestic hands of the teams; even established players have struggled in this competition.
While reigning IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders were the first to be knocked out of the competition, the other two IPL teams — Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings — are yet to get a win under their belt. In fact, defending champions Mumbai Indians and former champions Chennai Super Kings’ fate of qualifying for the semis hangs on the result of today’s match between Lions vs Yorkshire.
If Yorkshire lose, Mumbai and Chennai will be out of CLT20. Meanwhile, Delhi have a fair chance of getting into the four, thanks to a better net run-rate courtesy the comprehensive 52-run win over KKR in their opener. Several members of these IPL teams admitted that players from Australia and England have fared better than some of India’s domestic cricketers due to similar conditions back home.
Former India batsman Praveen Amre, who scored 103 on Test debut against South Africa in Durban (1992-93) under testing conditions, said a batsman’s footwork plays a major role in succeeding in South Africa. “Getting used to the bounce is an important factor when it comes to batting there. Accurate footwork also comes into play. You have to be very careful,” Amre told MiD DAY yesterday. The former Mumbai coach played for provincial team Boland in 1999-2000.
India Test opener Wasim Jaffer, who toured South Africa in 2006-07, where Rahul Dravid’s men had a golden chance of winning their maiden Test series there after victory in the first Test, said batsmen have to be watchful all the time. “Apart from the bounce factor, the ball swings both ways and that makes batting difficult in the initial overs. You have to be watchful in the first five to 10 overs and try to keep wickets in hand. In South African conditions, it’s important to know how to shape your innings,” said Jaffer, who scored 185 runs in three Tests including a century in the final Test at Cape Town which India lost to surrender the series.
Another India opening batsman — WV Raman — refused to blame conditions alone for the T20 batting failures in SA. “It’s just an excuse. Nothing is difficult. One has to adapt quickly to the conditions. It also has a lot to do with a player’s mental make-up,” said Raman, who toured SA twice with the Indian team (1992-93 and 1996-97). In the Centurion ODI of the 1992-93 series, Raman scored a match-winning 114.
Amre felt that the inexperienced cricketers from the IPL teams participating in CLT20 should have gone to South Africa a few weeks before the tournament began to get used to the conditions. “Going there early would have helped our youngsters. We would get tour games before any series and that was a big help. It gives you first-hand experience of the playing conditions and what to expect. A player can then think about how he can go about adjusting his game. The other solution is to produce similar wickets in India to provide the necessary practice for our players here,” said Amre.
Jaffer agreed. “Going there a week earlier and playing some practice games gives you a fair idea of the conditions. One has to take these tour games seriously and play with full intensity because net practice is never sufficient. Tour games help you adapt to the conditions quickly,” he signed off.