What the hell was Vettori thinking?

I’m writing this post in anger. In disgust. At the sheer lack of strategic vision shown by Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Daniel Vettori. What the hell was he thinking when he threw the ball to Virat Kohli for the 19th over, with 43 required off two overs? Yes, there had been a miscalculation earlier which meant that one of the last five overs had to be bowled either by part-timer Kohli, or by Raju Bhatkal who had been torn apart in his earlier two overs. While it is hard to pardon miscalculation in a twenty over game, it is nothing compared to the strategic error of the 19th over.

When overs sixteen to eighteen were bowled by Zaheer, Vinay and Zaheer respectively, I thought it was a tactical masterstroke by Vettori to keep the one extra over to the end. Given the skyrocketing required run rate, I thought it was a great idea that he was trying to put the match beyond Chennai Super Kings by the 19th over itself. And it worked well. From 75 needed off 5 overs, the equation was brought down to 43 off the last two overs (now, it is reasonable to expect Zaheer and Vinay to go at around 10 an over in the slog overs). And then what happened?

You have two overs left, 43 runs to win. You have a reasonably experienced medium pacer who is generally good at bowling at death, but is also prone to buckling under pressure. And you know you can’t trust whoever the other bowler is going to be. What you want is to have your good bowler bowl without any pressure on him. Without any pressure, you can expect him to go for about 10-15 in the 19th, leaving the batsmen to score nearly 30 off the last over – which would tilt the odds significantly in favour of the part timer who would bowl that over, since the pressure would be on the batsmen.

Instead, what do you do? Give the part timer the 19th over. He has no answers for Morkel’s slogging and edging, and goes for 28, leaving Vinay to defend 15. Now, it is Vinay (who is vulnerable under pressure) who has to bowl under pressure, and the batsmen know that. It is a miracle that the match went down to the last ball.

Of course you might say that I wouldn’t have reacted so angrily had either RCB won or Kohli had gone for less in his over. That’s not true. The match was in RCB’s pocket, to be won. The probability of victory reduced significantly the moment the ball was thrown to Kohli (for the 19th over). The ultimate result doesn’t matter. I would have blasted Vettori even if we had won.

Now, there is another uncharitable explanation that comes to mind, and I’m not very proud that this comes to mind. Was it mere incompetence or some sense of malice on the part of Vettori to give the 19th over to Kohli? I’m not talking about bookmakers here, I respect him too much for that. But think about it. Just yesterday, both Mint and Cricinfo ran articles talking about IPL 5’s poor TV ratings so far. The BCCI Chairman N Srinivasan (who not so coincidentally owns CSK) said that the answer to increasing TRPs was to play on batting-friendly high-scoring pitches, and to have close games.

The first wish was answered, when RCB set a target of 206. I wonder if there were some kind of instructions from “big brother” instructing that the game go into the last over, as a means to increase flagging TRPs. If Vinay had bowled the 19th and gone for 10 (say), that would have left a near-impossible 33 off Kohli/Bhatkal’s over. Match over by over 19. One more match that is not “close”, which will do nothing to boost TRPs. But keep the contest alive till the last over, TRPs would be boosted?

As an RCB fan, I hereby call for the immediate sacking of Daniel Vettori as captain and his replacement at the helm by one of Kohli or AB De Villiers  (maybe even Vinay Kumar or Zaheer Khan). Maybe I should create an online signature campaign for this purpose, and use my contacts to get the results through to Anil Kumble and other powers-that-are at RCB.


5 thoughts on “What the hell was Vettori thinking?”

  1. This is one of those things which you would sing songs of if it went right. And if it went wrong, well.

    I don’t think Vettori did anything to warrant an immediate dismissal. I personally expected Kohli to bowl the 19th and he did. (I am ignoring Raju Bhatkal out of the equation – I don’t think he was even in the reckoning).

    You saw what Rohit Sharma did to Dan Christian the last time round. And the IPL has witnessed a significant of these last over heroics. Kohli would be a sitting duck to that – and I wouldn’t have put it past him to leak 30 runs in the last over.

    What simply happened was the Vettori was banking on a 15 run over from Kohli – with a couple of balls being shot into the block hole. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I wouldn’t blame Vinay Kumar much either. Chennai dew, and general pressure.

    I still think Vettori got it right theoretically. The execution went for a toss. Most certainly not enough to dismiss Vettori from the helm.

  2. Honestly we have the benefit of hindsight. With Gayle not on the field, the options for the 5th bowler was anyways limited. No captain will want to wait till the end to finish the game. Logically speaking and what most other captains would do is play your strike bowlers early to finish the game soon. More so even when you have planned for 20 overs, and that you do not have Gayle at your disposal to bowl 2-3 overs, the choice and option is completely limited. Hence giving Vettori so much flak is quite unfair. Bhatkal had gone for 35 in 2 and Kohli had bowled 1 for 8, the obv choice would be Kohli. This being said , cant take anything away from Albie Morkel, he tore into the opportunity that was presented!

  3. “Maybe I should create an online signature campaign for this purpose, and use my contacts to get the results through to Anil Kumble and other powers-that-are at RCB.”

    Ha ha ha! You have such an inflated sense of self-worth!

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