Don’t mend what’s not broken: Loss to RPS should end Daredevils' experiments

Don’t mend, if it isn’t broken, is a golden rule.

Perhaps it finds most relevance in the world of sports nowadays, where consistency is of utmost importance. Say, in Formula One, where the drivers grind out lap after lap to understand any particular circuit inch-perfect. Or, indeed their cars, which are built up meticulously from scratch every time they go racing, albeit following the same set of instructions allowing the drivers to find that sweet spot immediately.

Sometimes, you try and make changes here or there. It is in order to play a certain strategy, depending on different conditions or teams. Say, in football, when you can opt for just the lone striker against an aggressive opponent, hoping to counter on the run. Or, go all-out with a 3-4-3 formation when chasing that elusive goal in the second half of the away tie.


This defeat should serve as a wake-up call to the Daredevils. BCCI

Unless it is a matter of various considerations that have a direct bearing on how the game will shape up, consistency remains the top priority for any individual or team, in any sport, on any given day. It translates into stability, and results over a particular period. And when the chain breaks down, you know precisely where and why, and you try to improve in order to find a fix and regain that consistency.

Delhi Daredevils’ first eight games of this 2016 IPL season find resonance in the aforementioned sentences. At first, it was about instilling confidence in a young group of players, getting them on a winning run. Thereafter, it was about the horses-for-courses approach and trying to outdo the opposition in terms of awareness and resources. Both these approaches worked out fine for them, and for the first time in a long while, this franchise started getting noticed again.

Then, on Thursday, the Rising Pune Supergiants came along. They were smarting from the increasing list of injuries, hurting even after two consecutive losses. The inclusion of Usman Khawaja and George Bailey saw much-needed balance restored to their playing eleven. How did the Daredevils respond though?

It was expected that they would make certain changes to play according to the strengths and weaknesses of their opposition. Maybe Shahbaz Nadeem would sit out, and Imran Tahir would step in. That would mean sending out Chris Morris, to balance the overseas players’ rule, and so on and so forth. There were a couple of set permutations and combinations available, tried and tested beforehand, for use once again. Instead, they rang in four changes, much to everyone’s surprise.

A niggle forced out Zaheer Khan, and JP Duminy stepped in as captain. That made him indispensable and took his name out of the four overseas players’ equation. They brought in Imran Tahir for Chris Morris. It would have allowed them to pick an extra Indian player in place of Khan, thus retaining the core of players who beat Gujarat Lions in Rajkot so convincingly.

It didn’t happen. Pawan Negi, Carlos Brathwaite and Jayant Yadav came in, while Shahbaz Nadeem and Quinton de Kock were dropped. The thinking behind these selections cannot be surmised. If Nadeem’s left-arm spin wasn’t required against the left-handed Khawaja, then the same stood for Negi as well. Also, the 8.5 crore purchase hasn’t been bowling much, thus warranting the inclusion of Yadav to support both Tahir and Amit Mishra.

Meanwhile, on any given day, Brathwaite ought to be a shoe-in for the Daredevils but he has been sitting out games to give the side an optimal balance. For this game, they brought him in. This was after dropping de Kock, who was just regaining form by the way, and moving Sanju Samson up the order. It also meant moving up both Duminy and Sam Billings to fortify the middle order, and thus slotting in Brathwaite and Negi for the late charge. Confused yet?

If you look at the scorecard, then the Daredevils’ 162/7 might affirm that they nearly achieved their requisite target. However, the result of the game will also say that it didn’t really work out in their favour, and that they were atleast 20 runs short. Sure, the quick dismissals of Brathwaite and Duminy cost them. But did the change around in the top-order hurt them more?

It was once again an inexperienced top-three with Rishabh Pant, Samson and Karun Nair lining up, and indeed returning to the hut with the card reading 65/3 in the tenth over. Here, Delhi’s first defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders comes to mind.

They had lost the top-order early and didn’t have the heavyweights in the middle to compensate, thus ending up with a low total. In a way, they made sure not to repeat the same mistake, but in that effort ended up making too many changes to an already set line-up.

Horses-for-courses is all very fine, but Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid have shown a propensity to make untimely changes to the playing eleven in every game. It was one of the reasons why Rajasthan Royals would get into a winning run, enough to see them qualify for the knockouts. Bu then they could never serve up a consistent run to get their hands on the trophy in the recent IPL seasons.

As such, this defeat should serve as a wake-up call to the Daredevils. On their way to Mohali to play Kings XI Punjab on Saturday, maybe they should remind themselves what they have done right so far, in rising to top-three in the points’ table. And then they should try not to mess with it!

Updated Date: May 06, 2016 12:52 PM

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