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Auction woes return to haunt RPS

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Rising_Pune_Supergiants_Logo_IPLAn MS Dhoni team making the IPL playoffs was ritualistic. 'Was' being the keyword. The cricketing decisions at the Rising Pune Supergiants fiercely rival their marketing decisions - about which, the lesser said the better.

The headless decision-making spree began with the initial draft. To have garnered the magical pair of Dhoni-Ashwin was a masterstroke. No two ways about it. It was a job well done.

But that they went for Rahane, Smith and du Plessis - all three of them together - is hard to decipher.

Rahane is a traditional accumulator. Incredibly consistent, he's a skipper's delight. He scores 'slowly' - has at best two gears, but is exceptional at doing what he does - and that is to hold the innings together.

Having one Rahane in your first XI is near-ideal. While Smith and Faf do possess a lot many more scoring shots in their repertoire, having all three of them in your top 4 defies logic. At best, any 2 of the above 3 make for a half-dynamic top order.

Remember, RPS had the first right to make every draft pick - thus placing them at an advantage even before the draft began. But at the end of it all, Gujarat Lions had clearly trumped their counterpart newbies. And the results reflect.

Unless a T20 team has unbelievable sting in its bowling, it cannot prosper with a batting pack low on dynamism.

The Supergiants' idea at the draft was obviously to load up its batting power. Surely Brendon McCullum knows a thing or two more than Ajinkya Rahane when it comes to T20 batting (having piled almost twice as many T20 runs as the latter).

Why I say this is because Rahane was RPS' second pick (R Ashwin being third) and Baz was Lions' third.

Dhoni's major success at CSK was defined by a muscular batting mix, plethora of allround options, quality spin and okayish (=Indian) medium pace.

 

In fact, MS pined, pre-tourament, over the lack of ambidextrous players at RPS - a case completely opposite to that at CSK. In the draft though, you conveniently ignore the likes of James Faulkner, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson and Chris Morris.

There was little coming back after a horrendous show at the draft - leaving them with INR 27 cr to build a squad around its batting-heavy core.

Their thought process at the auctions was no better - underlined by a INR 3.8 cr splurge on Ishant Sharma.

They did purchase Thisara Perera and Mitchell Marsh - a pair which gives more hope than confidence. Must confess, though, that buying Rajat Bhatia @ INR 60 lac was an absolute steal. While you did manage to grab Albie Morkel from Delhi Daredevils through a transfer, you didn't/couldn't play him enough (has played 2 of franchise's 12 games).

As reliant as CSK was on Indian quicks, it had at least one or sometimes two quality foreign pacers in its squad at all times- Makhaya Ntini (2008/2009), Doug Bollinger (2010/2011/2012), Ben Hilfenhaus (2011/2012/2013/2014), Dirk Nannes (2013), Kyle Abbott (2014/2015).

At Pune, Scott Boland, who's only 8 internationals old, is the lone overseas quick. Proven limited-overs quicks like Shaun Tait, James Pattinson and a T20 specialist in Ben Laughlin went unsold in the auctions. Laughlin, in fact, could have been bought for INR 20 lacs lesser than what the Supergiants invested in Boland.

Fleming and Co. have been super-smart on the auction table for so many years. Wonder which mosquito bit them this time around!

RPS have at least had 2 players in every one of their XIs who qualify as liabilities on the field. RP Singh and Saurabh Tiwary being those in Supergiants' recent affairs. Have to feel for MS Dhoni here.

Why I keep going back to the CSK model is because it worked - worked for so long and so successfully. And Dhoni doesn't really have an appetite for change. In fact, him and Flem have tried to retain the same model at RPS - but have made mistakes doing it.

It is hard to imagine a franchise going wrong on so many fronts like the Supergiants have. Imbalanced sides just cannot avoid getting exposed in tournaments like the IPL. Even the magical MSD can only do so much when not bestowed with the resources he so needs.

Injuries to key players have plagued their campaign, but there is no denying that they didn't have a 'tournament-winning' team in the first place.

Adam Zampa has probably been the only positive for them in this uninspiring run. Murugan Ashwin has picked wickets and will improve his defensive skills over time. Other than that, there's little to brag about.

It must be acknowledged that building a good cricketing unit out of nothing is not the easiest job in the world. From Dhoni, Flem and co, though, you expect much better.



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