‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.’ This quote by Norman Schwarzkopf applies perfectly to the present condition of Gujarat Lions as well.
The horrific start of Gujarat Lions in this IPL 2017 is not a mere result of their poor performance on the field but is also the result of their mismanagement and inadequate planning.
Boasting a strong squad, Gujarat Lions finished top of the points table after the league stage in last year’s IPL but in this edition, the team look toothless and is missing their previous prowess.
Along with injuries, the Lions are badly affected due to their poor choices in the 2017 auctions where they failed to add strength to their squad.
We look at the five grave mistakes Gujarat Lions made at the IPL auction table 2017. These mistakes have cost the team heavily and hence they have lost both their games so far in the series.
#1 No investment on experienced Indian pacer
In two matches so far in this season, Gujarat Lions have managed to pick up only one wicket. The prime reason for this abysmal bowling performance is the failure of their quick bowlers.
Before the 2017 auction, Gujarat had Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni as their Indian pace bowlers. Both these pacers have little international success and their limitations in T20 are pretty evident.
Hence, the team management should have invested in an experienced Indian pace bowler to strengthen their bowling department. Instead, they went for lesser known young bowlers who had displayed promise in the domestic circuit.
The likes of Basil Thampi, Nathu Singh, and Shelley Shaurya were effective buys but they lack the experience of playing in pressure situations in the IPL. The Lions also bought Munaf Patel and Manpreet Gony, who have plenty of IPL experience, but again, these medium pace bowlers haven’t been effective in the last few seasons.
Hence, Lions had no choice but to field inexperienced Indian pace bowlers in this IPL and the outcome was that they failed miserably.
#2 No genuine overseas pacer
The Gujarat Lions team management not only failed to improve their Indian pace bowling department but also failed to add anything of quality in the department of overseas pace bowling.
The 2017 auction was a golden opportunity for the side to add an overseas quick bowler in their squad which included Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner and Andrew Tye.
Having a genuine overseas pacer would have worked as insurance for the team in case of injuries or player unavailability issues. But it seems that the team was adamant in not picking any overseas pace bowler.
#3 Unnecessary inclusion of Jason Roy
Gujarat Lions in the 2017 IPL auctions bought only one overseas player, English batsman, Jason Roy. The aggressive English opener was impressive during England’s recent tour of India and was also an important member of the England team which ended as the runners-up in the ICC World T20 2016.
Although Lions purchased Roy at his base price, one might question this selection.
The Lions already have three overseas openers in the squad in Brenden McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch, who have plenty of IPL experience and are in good touch. Hence, Lions could have easily used the services of these batsmen at the top of the order. But, owing to some unusual strategy, the Lions included Roy and increased their tally of overseas opening batsman to four.
These four batsmen are too good to be left out, but at the same time, none of them are comfortable playing in the middle order. Hence, the batting order of Lions looks unsettled and highly vulnerable.
Thus the inclusion of Roy has, in fact, made the job of choosing one player a tougher task for the team management.
#4 Failure to get a finisher and middle order batsman
The pitches in the IPL are generally batting friendly and big scores are commonplace. But it seems that the Lions do not intend to exploit these conditions.
By having four overseas openers, Lions have strengthened their top order and with Suresh Raina at number three, they can claim to possess one of the best top orders in this IPL.
But their problem lies in the middle order. They don’t have a genuine power hitter in the middle order who can play the role of a finisher. This problem has forced the Lions to use one of their overseas opening batsmen to play in the middle order. However, the top order batsmen have faced difficulty in adapting to the challenges of batting in the death overs.
Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo are a part of Gujarat’s middle order, but they are not the most reliable in taking the team across the line. James Faulkner is a good option, but his inclusion in the playing XI requires Lions to sacrifice in other departments.
In the 2017 auctions, the Lions should have invested in at least one genuine power hitting batsman who has the ability to play in the death overs.
#5 No Indian all-rounder
All-rounders are a luxury for a captain as they bring flexibility in the team and also provide more options for the skipper. Gujarat Lions have effective all-rounders in the form of Dwayne Bravo and James Faulkner but both are overseas players and hence it might be difficult to accommodate both in the same playing eleven.
Ravindra Jadeja has improved his batting skills, but has played a lot of cricket in the past one year and is also an integral part of India’s Champions trophy squad. Hence, he may not be at his best form this season and thus Lions should have picked a cover for Jadeja.
The 2017 IPL auction was a chance for the team management to rope in an all-rounder who, along with displaying batting skills, could have chipped in with few wickets.