The Deccan Gladiators have in their squad one of the most destructive batters in world cricket in Andre Russell, and coach Mushtaq Ahmed explained that impact players like him need as much time as possible in the middle so that they can affect the game positively.
Speaking on the sidelines of the sixth season of Abu Dhabi T10, the former Pakistan spinner said, “Andre Russell has the X-factor and you have to send him in early. Last year also I made him open the batting, and this time also I had a word with him and told him that he has all the freedom to do what he needs to. In T10 or T20 cricket, you have to take the big decisions and hope that the plans pay off. And I am glad that so far our decisions have worked out well."
The former leg-break bowler also noted that one of the most important factors in the sport, no matter the format is sticking to your basics. “You have to remember your basics and play the ball according to merit. When you start thinking of the result, then you lose focus on the basics. As a coach, it is my duty to tell the players to not lose their shape and focus and keep playing cricketing shots."
He further added, “Even if there are a couple of dot balls, remember a couple of big hits or a good couple of overs and you are back in the game."
The Deccan Gladiators’ coach also touched upon the fact that all-rounders are among the most valuable players in the shorter formats. “In such short formats, Hardik Pandya can be a very dangerous player, even someone like David Wiese, they can bat, bowl and field. These are players who can be match-winners."
Asked about how to counter the big-hitting batters, Ahmed said, “Wickets, that’s the key in a format like T10. Tabraiz Shamsi and Zahir Khan are examples. A few good deliveries will add pressure and keep you in the game and then you can get wickets. Basically, the player’s role needs to be very clear."
Ahmed, who feels that T10 is the toughest format due to the lack of time, said “In T10 there is no time, and you can’t slow down at all."
Would the dynamic Indian batter Virat Kohli do well in T10, a player who is technically correct, or does the format need more players who can improvise on the go? Ahmed explained, “Both types of players can succeed in T10 cricket. An example is Moeen Ali, who plays good cricketing shots. The roles should be clear. Nicholas Pooran hit a flurry of boundaries and then brought the momentum back. The most important thing is to have a clear idea of who has to do what."
“This is a game of temperament. You’ve got to see as a coach who has the best temperament. Sometimes you need someone to bide their time, while sometimes you need players like Andre Russell, who can go and express themselves."
Speaking about tackling the most dangerous bowlers like Rashid Khan, the Deccan Gladiators’ coach said, “Don’t play the bowler, in T10 or T20 cricket, you have to play the ball on the merit and not the bowler. You’re not playing Rashid, you’re facing the ball. I feel the batter should look to see the ball and then hit the ball."