In the previous editions of the IPL, when Mahendra Singh Dhoni captained the Chennai Super Kings it was undoubtedly the most consistent and eminent team for quite a few seasons at length. However, with all the changes this year round, the performance of the Rising Pune Supergiants, whose responsibility too is being shouldered by Dhoni, their performances haven’t quite been as effective as expected, strongly hinting at the fact that the captain alone can make a difference but not enough to determine the outcome of the game. Here are 5 reasons we feel the RPS dwindled somewhere along their maiden IPL journey as a team-
1) Lack of spark and consistency in the batting unit
If there has been one batsman who has been consistent for the Supergiants throughout, it has only been Ajinkya Rahane with 413 runs so far. He has almost acted like the back bone of the batting line up, with having only a few batsmen to support him at limited occasions. The only next top scorer to him with 270 runs had been Steven Smith but he too was ruled out due to injury and so were the other batting heavyweights in the form of Faf du Plessis and Kevin Pietersen. As the trend has gone in this edition, there have been quite a lot of high scoring matches and the need of enough fire in the batting line up turns out to be quintessential.2)
2) Weak links in bowling
The failure to defend totals as huge as 195 and 191 when their batting fired, shows the flaws in the bowling line up. It is only recently that Adam Zampa made a mark whilst other bowlers like Perara (9 matches) and Dinda (6 matches) have only 8 and 7 wickets to their names, respectively. The fact that Ravichandran Ashwin has managed to garner as few as 4 wickets in the 11 games he has played, and fast bowlers RP Singh and Ishant Sharma have got only 4 games and 3 wickets each in their kitty says it all.
3) Lack of impact of both Dhoni, the Captain and Dhoni, the batsman
Mahendra Singh hasn’t really been both the captain and batsman that the fans expect and the team requires him to be. Dhoni hitting it hard into the stands and charging upon the bowlers has been missed on the ground this season. With the bat he has averaged around 30.29 with 212 runs in the 10 innings that he has played. Adding to it he has been highly criticised for his decisions of underutilising Ashwin and not putting the bench strength to the best possible use. The like of Irfan Pathan getting only one over in the only game he was given a chance to play and players like Baba Aprajith and Ishwar Pandey not getting a game yet has raised a lot of eyebrows and questions.
More than anything else the biggest problem that the RPS have constantly had and has turned out to be nearly fatal for them has been the injury concerns. The batting line up has been left almost crippled without the likes of Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis and Kevin Pietersen. The recent injury of Mitchel Marsh has rendered one less strong all-round option for skipper Dhoni to play with. Lesser resources have been a great reason to reduce the efficiency of MS as a captain as well as the team management. Even the replacements like that of Usman Khwaja have failed to make an impact.
5) Absence of an effective all-rounder and a cohesive team performance
The need of a player who can pick up a couple of wickets and chip in with the bat too is indispensable in the t20 format. Players like Rajat Bhatia and Thisara Perara have not been what an Andre Russel has been to KKR or Dwayne Bravo has been to the Gujarat Lions. Moreover the entire newly formed team has failed as a unit; as when the batting has pushed up the performance the bowling has let them down and vice versa. Interestingly, MS Dhoni ignored Irfan Pathan throughout the tournament, even when the Baroda all-rounder was in good form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. In the first 11 matches, Pathan played one match and bowled only 1 over.
No wonder why we call cricket, a TEAM GAME.