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Bangalore's batting blues and confounding captaincy - Suneer Chowdhary column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Apr 26, 2009
Vijay Mallya's decision to go ahead with the wholesale changes that he made from the previous season's Indian Premier League was on expected lines; especially after their erstwhile CEO had been sacked in the middle of the tournament and Brijesh Patel handed over the reigns. Talking of reigns, Rahul Dravid 'voluntarily' had stepped down as the skipper, and for some unfathomable reason, Kevin Pietersen assigned the saddle for half the length of the tournament. Once Pietersen would have reluctantly departed for his international commitments, Jacques Kallis would take over from him. Talk of multiple captaincy, and it should be Mallya and not John Buchanan who should be credited with this theory!

The results haven't exhibited a great paradigm shift. In fact, one can sense that the team looks even more disjointed than earlier, with a feeling one gets being akin to what one got watching the Rest of World play the Australians in the 'Super Tests'. The captaincy has been anything but inspired, as can be seen from the Pietersen's petulance in forgetting the players he has chosen for the game. Given the way the side has functioned, his knowledge about the local guys - the Indian domestic cricketers - seems close to negligible, and it almost comes across like leading the side is a job that has been thrust upon him without taking him into confidence.

The batting line-up for the first game - despite the win against the Rajasthan Royals - not only underlined the fact that the knowledge of local conditions is as conspicuous by its absence as Mallya himself for that match, but also showed that the team management was in an over-compensation mode. Probably it was an effort on the skipper's part to appease Mallya who had earlier been furious for being termed as owning a test-match team in a T20 set-up. Five of the top six - which included Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, Virat Kohli, Robin Uthappa, apart from Pietersen himself - were batsmen aptly made for smashing the ball around the ground, but with techniques that could be termed as slightly questionable; a far cry from the Jaffers, Chanderpauls, Kallis and Dravids of the 2008 edition.

Dravid's batting in the first match under conditions that suited the bowling more than batsmen gave enough indication that it may not be easy for the willow-wielding and ball-muscling batsmen of this generation through the rest of the tournament.

Then, for some reason, the Royal Challengers decided to shuffle their team around a bit, and lo and behold! For their previous match, they got in an extra batsman in place of the premium pace bowler Dale Steyn, a move undoubtedly brought out by their understanding that it is the batsmen who can win the game for them than the batsmen; a thought process as anachronistic as a dilapidated as a mansion in a Ramsay-horror flick.

Oh and yes, as a side-note, Pietersen has cost his side $1.55m, on a pro-rata basis and managed to score two ducks along with the other crumbs apart from notching the three losses. Fortunately for him, he should soon be leaving the South African shores and the new skipper will bear the brunt of the entire jamboree.

The question here is, can it get worse for Pietersen?
 
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