The stakes for every team are very high in IPL. A substantial amount of money and energy is expended by teams in building their line-ups. National and international players are carefully scouted and heavy money is paid to have the services of various players. It is expected of players who have a big-hitting reputation or have lately been in good form that they will perform and help the franchise in a positive way.
However, these plans that are drawn up by managements sometimes don’t lead to fruition. Players get injured or go through a lean patch. In such times, it is necessary to identify the correct replacement and pick a suitable playing eleven. It so happens that due to some of the other reasons, franchises make the mistake of picking the wrong eleven and are unable to replace the player out of form.
We look at 5 decisions from the various teams in IPL 2021 that made no sense to the cricketing minds of fans and spectators.
1. KKR not playing Lockie Ferguson for the majority of the tournament
A number of cricket pundits including Ajit Agarkar were left flabbergasted when KKR persisted with their combination of overseas players in India’s leg without much success. The franchise had paid heavily for Cummins and it made sense to go with the premier pacer. However, when the returns from Shakib were so low, it made no sense to continue with him. In the UAE leg, the team management decided to use Ferguson and it has worked wonders. KKR have managed to secure wins in 3 of their 4 games and Ferguson has bowled phenomenally well. The pull-out of Cummins has been a blessing in disguise.
2. SRH missing the trick with Jason Roy
SRH’s campaign has spiraled out of control. They lost 5 games on a trot before winning their last game against Rajasthan Royals. The credit for the win in a major part goes to Jason Roy’s magnificent innings of 62. He anchored one end well to chase the total down. SRH has traditionally had brilliant opening pairs in the form of Dhawan- Warner and Warner-Bairstow. However, Warner has had a disastrous IPL season this year and struggled to cross double digits. Bairstow had pulled out of this leg of the IPL. Therefore, it was foolish to not start with Roy who has been in great form over the years, and his credibility as an opener is solid.
3. Rajasthan Royals getting it wrong with Shreyas Gopal
Rajasthan Royals have had a tough time in UAE. They have won a tight first game against Punjab but subsequently lost to SRH, Bangalore, and Delhi Capitals. What has baffled cricket observers is the non-selection of Shreyas Gopal. Gopal who has been with the Royals for 4 seasons now, is a handy leg-spinner. In 2019, he got a hat-trick against RCB where he got Kohli, De Villers, and Stoinis. The team has played Tewatia and Lomror as their first-choice spinners. The two have failed to arrest the flow of runs and pick wickets. The team has depended on the speedsters to pick the wickets. Gopal would have had a huge difference on the slow and turning tracks of UAE had he been picked.
4. Punjab playing Ravi Bishnoi after it was too late
Another team languishing in the lower half of the table is Punjab. Their team selection continues to be a mystery. Punjab did not play Gayle in their first game, then when Mayank didn’t start against Mumbai Indians they opened with Mandeep Singh. However, the selection of not picking Bishnoi was the most surprising. He had a spectacular season in 2020 when he picked 12 wickets and was their main wicket-taker. In the first 4 games of 2021 against Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively. Punjab lost three out of their four games. However, in the UAE leg, after losing to Rajasthan, Bishnoi played against SRH and had an immediate effect on the team by picking 3 wickets for 24 runs in his 4 over quota.
5. Punjab Kings wrongly persisting with Nicholas Pooran
With a plethora of competent stars in the Punjab line-up, it was baffling to see that the franchise decided to stick with him even after a nightmarish start to the season. In the 7 games that Punjab played in the first leg, he scored a paltry 28 runs. His 7 innings included 4 ducks. Punjab could have brought in either Henrique Moises or Chris Jordan and bolstered their batting with a domestic Indian batsman. The unsteady middle order of Punjab was in big part due to Pooran.