back icon


Tactical Tweaks each team could make to improve the side

Last updated on 24 Apr 2022 | 06:38 PM
Google News IconFollow Us
Tactical Tweaks each team could make to improve the side

From DC using Pant at No.3 to RR playing Neesham, we look at the tweaks teams can make in the second half to improve the starting XI

Kolkata Knight Riders

Open with Aaron Finch and Nitish Rana?

It is not often that teams are completely clueless about their opening pair at the mid-way point of the season, but it’s been that kind of a campaign for KKR thus far. 7 games in, they’ve already used five different openers and four different opening pairs, yet nothing has clicked. 

For this very reason, it wouldn’t be the worst of moves from a Knight Riders perspective to open with Aaron Finch and Nitish Rana. 

Against RR, Finch showed he still has it in him to be explosive, and the Australian, one suspects, would make the starting XI again once he’s fit. Rana is an interesting choice of partner, but given the southpaw has struggled in the middle thus far, promoting him up top wouldn’t be a bad option. 

Rana averages 36 as an opener and had relative success up top in the 2020 season, where he averaged 42 and struck at 144.8 opening the batting. If KKR are going to throw things at the wall and see what sticks, they might as well experiment with Rana as an opener once again. It might end up solving at least one problem.

Punjab Kings

Fit both Rajapaksa and Bairstow in the team and sacrifice bowling depthWhile it might be tempting to drop Jonny Bairstow based on current form, you just don’t leave players of his caliber on the bench. What Punjab can do instead is put all their eggs in the batting basket, back it to the hilt and see what happens.

Accommodating both Bairstow and Rajapaska would mean that their Top 7 would look something like this: Mayank, Dhawan, Rajapaksa, Bairstow, Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma and Shahrukh Khan. But it would also leave them with only four specialist bowling options, with Liam Livingstone having to fill in as the fifth bowler. 

It’s not ideal, but through smart captaincy, you can get through games without too much damage. Finch showed how to do it last year, as he won the T20 World Cup with Maxwell essentially taking up the fifth bowler duty in all games.

It is no secret that Punjab rely heavily on their batting. Given that, they might as well take a punt like the one mentioned above.

Delhi Capitals

Bat Pant at No.3, Powell at No.4 and use Mitch Marsh as a finisher/pace hitter

This might seem like an absurd claim on the first look, but it really is making the best use of resources. 

While it is true that it’s at No.3 where Mitchell Marsh has had all his recent success, what’s to be noted is that he’s primarily excelled against pace. In the 2021 T20 World Cup, for instance, Marsh struck at 164 against pace compared to 121 against spin. And the entry points were key too. Marsh walked in to bat inside the powerplay in 4 of the 5 innings, and that allowed him to start against pace. 27% of all the balls Marsh faced in the T20WC came against pace inside the powerplay.

He is unlikely to have the same luxury in the IPL, and even if he walks in early, teams are bound to bombard him with spin up-front.  RCB did that in the only match he played; 9 of the first 15 balls he faced were versus spin, and in that Marsh managed just 5 runs. 

It would, hence, make sense to instead utilize his strength — pace hitting — by deploying him at the death. It’ll also add more muscle to DC’s lower-order batting, which is currently reliant on Lalit Yadav and the bowlers. 

Utilizing Marsh as a finisher will mean Pant moving to No.3 and Powell to No.4, but that’s a win-win situation for Delhi. Since 2020, No.3 is where Pant has had most success and even in his entire IPL career, Pant strikes at 170 at No.3 compared to 144.7 elsewhere. In the only innings he batted at No.3 this season, the DC skipper managed 27 off 14 balls. 

Incidentally, No.4 also happens to be Powell’s best position. The West Indian is a player who knows how to pace and construct an innings, is a very efficient runner and is someone who can masterfully counterpunch. He is best utilized at No.4 and it is no coincidence that it is the very same position where he had success playing for the national team, earlier in the year. 

Rajasthan Royals

Bring back Kuldeep Sen for McCoy, play Neesham and bat Riyan Parag higher

Though Rajasthan won each of their last two games, they went into both the matches with incredibly thin batting depth. It didn’t matter because Buttler carried the side in both the matches, but it could, some day, come back to bite them. But luckily for the Royals, there is a simple fix.

All they need to do is bring back Kuldeep Sen in place of McCoy, and replace Karun Nair with Jimmy Neesham.

Drafting in Neesham alone has plenty of benefits. For one, it will allow RR to bat Riyan Parag higher and get more out of the youngster’s batting. Parag has been trying his best to have an impact, but he’s really being wasted by being deployed so low down the order. Crucially, it will continue allowing RR to use Hetmyer a bit higher up, even when the team loses a couple of early wickets. Because there is a security in the form of Neesham, who is a finisher himself. 

Not to forget the fact Neesham also provides the team with that extra bowling option. The Kiwi all-rounder is a far better sixth option than Parag, and can seamlessly fill in on days when a main bowler is having a night to forget.

And given Kuldeep Sen has already shown that he can be a valuable entity at the death, bringing him in place of McCoy shouldn’t be too much of an issue. 

Lucknow Super Giants

Do away with Manish Pandey, bat Deepak Hooda at No.3

In the aftermath of the first LSG vs MI encounter, we raised the question if Manish Pandey was actually of any use to his Lucknow batting line-up, given the batting depth they possess. His run-a-ball 22 in the reverse fixture on Sunday pretty much proved that Pandey is in fact holding this Lucknow batting line-up back.

The issue with Pandey being in the line-up is not just that he consumes balls that could potentially be faced by the likes of Stoinis and Holder, but he ends up wasting them by scoring at 100-115 SR. 

Again, Lucknow have an easy fix. Drop Pandey, bring back K Gowtham and promote Deepak Hooda to No.3.

In both the Gujarat and Sunrisers games, Hooda showed that he has it in him to rebuild and then launch. In some of the other games — like the one against CSK and the first encounter against MI — he showcased his ability to go berserk from the get go. He should, therefore, fit just about fine at No.3. If nothing, he’ll certainly be an upgrade on Pandey, who has impacted the side negatively so far this season.

Again it’s a win-win situation for Lucknow because dropping Pandey will enable them to play Gowtham. The Karnataka spinner will add more muscle to the lower-order batting, and he will also provide Rahul with an additional bowling option and make Lucknow’s bowling more versatile than it already is. 

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Open with Kohli and Faf, play Mahipal Lomror at No.3

8 games is a sufficient enough sample size and so it’s fair to say that the Anuj Rawat experiment hasn’t worked for RCB. The youngster showed plenty of promise in the fifty he scored against Mumbai, but an average of 16 and a SR of 109 is simply not good enough for an IPL opener. 

What RCB can therefore do going forward is push Kohli to the top, ask him to open with Faf and play Mahipal Lomror in the middle-order. Kohli might be struggling monumentally right now, but he will, at the very least, utilize the powerplay better than Rawat, who struck at a shocking 92.77 in the phase. 

By pushing Lomror to No.3, RCB will have a leftie who enjoys playing spin. In his T20 career, Lomoror averages 48 against spin and strikes at over 135 against the slower bowlers. It is these numbers that enticed the franchise into buying the Rajasthan man in the first place.

What RCB can also try is promoting Wanindu Hasaranga every now and then. The Sri Lankan has been steadily improving with the bat in the past 18 months, and even played a match-defining knock in the T20WC against Ireland, but RCB have not used him above No.8 even once. For a supposed ‘all-rounder’, Hasaranga’s batting ability has been criminally under-utilized by RCB.

Mumbai Indians

Given their season is already done and dusted, there is little point in Mumbai trying to make tactical tweaks. It’s too late.

What they can, however, do is give a decent run to those players who currently are in the fringes. For all we know, Mumbai could end up unearthing their own Ruturaj Gaikwad in the latter half of the campaign. The likes of Rahul Buddhi, Aryan Juyal, Tim David and Sanjay Yadav all are talented players who could end up making a name for themselves in the dead rubbers.

Gujarat Titans

Use Abhinav Manohar higher up the order, as a spin basherYou don’t want to be making too many changes, if any, to a side that has won 6 out of 7. However, smart adjustments can still be made and thus Gujarat might benefit from Abhinav Manohar batting higher up in the order.

So far in IPL 2022, Abhinav has batted 50% of his innings at No.7, and has walked in to bat after the 13th over four times. But the Titans could benefit from utilizing the Karnataka man in the middle, as a spin basher.

In his T20 career, the right-hander strikes at over 190 against spin, but across six innings in this IPL, he’s only got to face 26 balls of spin in total. 

With both Miller and Pandya being slow-starters against spin, Gujarat could do with the explosiveness of Abhinav in the middle overs.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

SRH, since bringing Jansen into the side, have nailed their tactics and have unsurprisingly won 5 on the bounce. As things stand, there seems to be no need for the side to be making any tactical tweaks.

Chennai Super Kings

Compared to SRH, CSK might be at the opposite end of the table, but from a tactical perspective, there is not a lot the management can do to drastically improve the side. The batting is pretty much settled, and with Pretorius and Theekshana walking into the side seamlessly, the only spot there for the taking is that of Mukesh Choudhary. But the three-wicket haul against Mumbai is guaranteed to buy the left-armer a game or two at least, if not more. Perhaps the Super Kings can try giving a game or two to Hangargekar, but that’s about all they can do. The injuries to Milne and Deepak Chahar have tied their hands to an extent.

Related Article