It's about natural instinct, not age


MaaPeya Da LaaDLa
Apart from breaking innumerable records, the Indian Premier League has started shattering a few myths too: the first and most significant one, without doubt, is the age-old debate: sorry, but T-20 is not really the domain of the youngsters.

Whether it is Sanath Jayasuriya (explosive) or Shane Warne (sublime), some of these so-called veterans have shown they are masters of all forms of the game. Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, to name just a few, have also stood out like streakers in a crowd.

Yes, one thing is conspicuously missing from this lineup: Indian names. As surprising as it might seem, and as much as Sourav Ganguly might want to disagree, our icons haven't exactly set the stands on fire; most of the other stars too have also been overshadowed by the younger guns. Is this just an aberration or are the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman not cut out for T-20? Is it impossible for them to shed their immaculate techniques and launch into brutal attacks? Or is it the same old disease that afflicts all those who want to excel all the time: try too hard?

The three icons under pressure, including Ganguly, attempted to overcome the situation by batting first up. It is a logical move; but at least in the IPL, it has only backfired with alarming consequences. The truth is in T-20, every ball, every over is like a goldmine: if you fail to exploit it, it will explode on your face.

In One-dayers (forget Test cricket: that is a totally different ballgame), a few bad balls, even bad overs, can easily be surmounted later in the innings. You can, for example, take 75 deliveries to score your first 25 runs and still come back with a smile by making 75 off the next 25.

In T-20, there is hardly any scope for making up, for rectifying a setback. In fact, the first few overs are the most crucial part in this game. That is why teams like Jaipur and Mohali (don't give away too many runs; score like there is no tomorrow) have been such successes.

You need depth and strength in both departments to consistently win in this format. And this is where the captain becomes so critical: firstly, he should have his priorities right. Scoring runs yourself is not important; winning the match is. In other words, if there is a batsman who can score faster than you, he has to bat ahead of you.

Mind you, all this has nothing to do with age; success and failure in this form has more to do with mindset. With one's natural instinct. Jayasuriya and Hayden, for example, are attacking batsmen by nature. They like to dominate bowlers and are very comfortable playing their shots. But they get their runs without throwing caution to the wind.

Dravid and Laxman, on the other hand, have grown up waiting for the bad ball; it is not in their genes to step out and hoick each and every ball. Ganguly may not be scared of doing that; but you can see that he takes too much risk, often exposing his stumps, in the process. Sooner or earlier he will get out.