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IPL 2022: With Loyalties Shifted, Players Making Merry Against Their Former Teams

By: G Krishnan

Cricketnext

Last Updated: April 12, 2022, 11:34 IST

(From left) Kuldeep Yadav, Faf du Plessis and Hardik Pandya (BCCI Photo)

(From left) Kuldeep Yadav, Faf du Plessis and Hardik Pandya (BCCI Photo)

Such contests against teams that players have played for long in the previous seasons make IPL that much more interesting

A mouth-watering clash awaits IPL fans on Tuesday as southern teams, Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, face each other at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. While it brings back Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, both free from the burden of captaincy, again on the cricket field together, it will be interesting to see how RCB captain Faf du Plessis fares against his former team, CSK.

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CSK, off to their worst start in any IPL season by losing all their four matches, are badly missing du Plessis at the top of their line-up. In his absence, they have not got off to a solid start. In letting him go with the hope of buying him back in the IPL auctions, CSK made a big mistake. It also broke a successful opening partnership that du Plessis formed with Ruturaj Gaikwad, which was one of the primary reasons for CSK winning their fourth IPL title last year.

In the bidding war, RCB pocketed him for Rs 7 crore. It was difficult for the fans to accept that du Plessis was no longer a Team in Yellow player after having played for the franchise in 92 out of his 104 IPL matches from 2012 to 2021 with eight matches for Rising Pune Supergiant when CSK were banned for two years.

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Such contests against teams that players have played for long in the previous seasons make IPL that much more interesting. It is not that this is happening this year only. It has happened in the past, and will continue to happen again. Wait and watch for Hardik Pandya (for Gujarat Titans) against Mumbai Indians (May 6 at Brabourne Stadium).

Also Read: Dismantling Core Strength has Hurt MI and CSK

On Sunday evening at Brabourne Stadium, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav upped his performance level for Delhi Capitals against his old team Kolkata Knight Riders. Having played all his IPL life from 2016 to 2020 for KKR, Yadav, again, was released by KKR. DC’s gain was KKR’s loss, as it turned out as Yadav picked up four for 35 to star in DC’s 44-run victory. Yadav, who was finding himself out of the Indian team of late and was recently given a new lease of life in the limited-overs series in February against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, was bought by DC at the auctions for Rs 2 crore.

What do you say about Shreyas Iyer turning out for KKR against DC in the same match? Iyer, though top-scored for his team with 54, was stumped by Rishabh Pant, whom he has captained at DC before, off Yadav. Interesting, isn’t it, of players swapping teams, though not out of their own will, and coming good against their former teams? Iyer, like Yadav, played for one franchise, DC, 87 matches in all since his debut in 2015 before KKR roped him in at the mega auctions in February for Rs 12.25 crore.

Having got adjusted to one franchise, it is not easy to get used to a new environment. Some take time to adjust, some others ease into the new set up quickly. That said, it is the performances that matter.

KKR slow bowler Varun Chakravarthy benefitted immensely by having veteran Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps. In 2020 and 2021, he played 30 matches for KKR and came to the limelight with Karthik’s encouraging words in Tamil, as both are from Chennai, pepping up the bowler and tricking batsmen into making mistakes. Now, with Karthik out of KKR and into the RCB ranks, Chakravarthy has Englishman Sam Billings to do the calling from behind the stumps.

Chakravarthy, though, has taken only four wickets in five matches this IPL, his economy rate has marginally risen from 6.82 at the start of IPL2022 to 6.89 after Sunday’s game, and the bowling average up from 23.31 to 24.63.

As it turned out in the RCB vs KKR match at DY Patil Stadium on March 30, RCB got the better of KKR with Karthik scoring the winning runs. For the record, Karthik has played for six different franchises and in over 215 matches, the most he has appeared so far has been for KKR, 61.

How about the Md Shami vs KL Rahul face off in their first match on March 28 at the Wankhede? Shami, playing for Gujarat Titans, removed his former captain at Punjab Kings, KL Rahul, with the first delivery he bowled in this IPL. Rahul, leading Lucknow Super Giants, nicked a Shami beauty behind.

Or for that matter, Jason Holder bowling a tight last over for LSG against his former team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, defending 15 runs? The West Indian conceded only three runs and picked up three wickets to bowl his team to a 12-run win over his former team.

So, this changing of teams, as has been the chemistry of IPL over the years, does impact the results in a way. The team’s tactics, strategies, players’ strengths and weaknesses, insights into the team are exposed. Though in today’s age of video analysis and every detail available for everyone, even those that were not caught by the sharp cameras could be discussed by the players who have changed teams.

Prior to the LSG-DC match in Pune last week, Delhi Capitals’ assistant coach Shane Watson spoke of fast bowler Avesh Khan, who changed sides from Delhi to Lucknow. Watson said: “Avesh Khan has done incredibly well. Delhi Capitals know Avesh very well from his Delhi Capitals days. DC know Avesh very well, what his strengths and weaknesses are and tap more into his weaknesses more than anything.”

As it turned out, DC did sort Avesh, who went for 32 runs without a wicket in four overs. But LSG had the better of DC by five wickets.

Watson, the 40-year-old Australian who represented three franchises in IPL – Rajasthan Royals (78 matches, 2008, 2011-15), Royal Challengers Bangalore (24 matches, 2016-17) and then finished his IPL career with Chennai Super Kings (43, 2018-20), said that having insights of former teams was advantageous in a way for the teams and the players.

He said last week: “It’s an advantage in a way, more so playing CSK. Rajasthan Royals was quite a few years ago, so I lost touch with exactly everything that’s going on in there. Inside the CSK psyche, it probably helps a little bit but in the end what really boils down is the current set up of each franchise and each team. You can have all the insights but if you don’t have the players and the skills to execute those plans and try to expose those insights, then there is no point in having those insights. For me, the most exciting part is the squad we have in DC, international stars from Indian perspective, from overseas perspective, and some incredible young talent as well like Lalit Yadav. If DC apply their best and bring their best consistently throughout this tournament because of the depth and quality of the squad we have, it doesn’t matter what insights I have, they are going to be doing incredibly well.”

Watson also mentioned about having played with Deepak Hooda at RR. Hooda, now is a key player for LSG. Watson, who has won IPL titles with RR and CSK, said, “Deepak Hooda of LSG is someone I have played in Rajasthan Royals a few years ago and he had great skills then, and now for him to be able to show his consistent power hitting skills that he has got, it means he is going to be very dangerous and we have to look out for him."

DC did keep Hooda quiet in their match at DY Patil Stadium on April 7 but LSG prevailed in the end.

Not just the player movements between franchises but the coaching staff too have switched sides. Lasith Malinga played all his 122 IPL matches for one team, Mumbai Indians from 2009 to 20019, groomed Jasprit Bumrah during his time there. Now, he is plotting MI’s and other teams’ downfall as the fast bowling coach of RR.

Andy Flower, Jonty Rhodes, Gary Kirsten are some of the other top thinking heads that have gone from one team to another.

Despite all these change overs and plotting against their earlier teams, like Watson rightly said, if the players don’t execute well in the middle, having all the insights is of no use. It all boils down to performances in the end.

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first published:April 12, 2022, 11:34 IST
last updated:April 12, 2022, 11:34 IST