Colombo: When the West Indies face Australia on Saturday, strategic inputs will come from Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo. The three Caribbean stars are not only Twenty20 specialists in the Indian Premier League (IPL), they are also regulars in Australia's domestic T20 tournament, the Big Bash.
It works both ways, though. While the three are the most important cogs in the West Indies' wheel, the Kangaroos know how to keep them in check.
“We have a few guys who played a few seasons of IPL and Big Bash. We have Chris, Bravo and Narine who played last year. They come with a lot of inputs and experience. It's valuable to the cause of the team. Hopefully, we can gain from their experience and put it out there in the middle,” said Windies skipper Darren Sammy on Friday.
Similarly, when the West Indies take on India, Narine will have the details of his Kolkata Knight Riders skipper, Gautam Gambhir; Bravo of his Chennai Super Kings captain, MS Dhoni, and Gayle of his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammate and buddy, Virat Kohli.
The dynamics of the game have changed with the mushrooming of T20 leagues, with each outfit having a mix of local and foreign players. This translates into weaknesses being exploited more, psychologically and technically.
Nets, dressing room give better insight
Numerous video recordings are available on a player's game, but facing a bowler in the nets and sharing the dressing room provides a different insight. This is beyond what cameras can capture as one gets to understand the psychology of the cricketer and how he reacts to a particular situation.
The trap is laid, and staying a step ahead is the challenge, more so, for the India team.
Among all outfits, Dhoni's men are the most exposed as every member of the side is part of the IPL, the biggest and most popular event. Some of the teams have only a few top players in the cash-rich league and, hence, still retain an element of surprise.
For India, there's simply no novelty on offer.
This leaves limited scope for one-dimensional players. If field placements aren't got right, and plans well executed, it can make things difficult for such players.
Survival of the skillful
This also means that the skillful will survive because as history shows no amount of strategy has been able to contain talented players or those with a solid all-round game.
An indication of the above point can be had from India's performances in the T20 format since the start of the IPL. Pre-IPL, they won the 2007 World T20, post-IPL they did not record a single win in the Super Eights in 2009 and 2010.
More than the batsmen, it's the bowling attack which has been targeted with success. The lack of pace and limited skill sets have been exposed and exploited. India's most successful bowler, RP Singh, with 14 wickets, is at the 14th spot in the wicket-takers' list.
No research has been done, hence we can't be sure, but looking at tournament results, it presents an interesting picture. Pakistan have the best record at the World T20, the top two on the highest wicket-takers' list wear green shirts, and they don't play the IPL.
Draw your conclusions.