Don’t blame IPL for India’s WT20 exit, says Sunil Gavaskar

Former skipper Sunil Gavaskar on Thursday said it was wrong to blame the Indian Premier League, held in South Africa in April-May, for defending champion India’s early exit from the Twenty20 tournament in England.

“I don’t think the IPL can be conceived in any other way. The home and away concept is so essential to it. This time it was played in South Africa, even there this (concept) worked. Our team got outplayed (in the World T20). I would not look too much into it,” he said after delivering the inaugural Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture.

Gavaskar also saw Indian batsmen’s perennial weakness against short-pitched deliveries as something that was not an added concern as he felt it was due to lack of familiarity with bouncers that did the batsmen in.

“There’s a lot of cricket (that has) been played where there were not many short balls, and so the balance tends to be on the front foot. Then when suddenly there are short pitched deliveries, you couldn’t adjust to it. I think that’s what happened (to the Indian team). I think there need not be too much concern about it,” he said.

The Indian batsmen were made to hop by the short-pitched deliveries bowled at them during the World T20 tournament and in the ongoing ODI series in the West Indies.

On the transition of India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni from an all-out attacking batsman to a more cautious run-getter, Gavaskar said this was perhaps because the Ranchi-born wicket-keeper wanted to prolong his career.

“As a spectator you want to see him as a dasher because you want to get your moneys worth. But there is also the longevity (factor). Dhoni is perhaps cautious in his approach but he is working hard on his batting,” Gavaskar said.

The cricketer-turned-commentator felt even in this age of instant gratification, which has led to the popularity of T20 cricket, there was still time and place for five-day games.

He also said since most Tests these days end in four or a little over four days, the International Cricket Council was mulling over changing its length from five to four days.

“If you take a look, most Tests are giving results in 4 days or 4-1/2 days. Probably that’s why they have mooted this idea. I am sure Test cricket has a place of its own. The players too realize the importance of doing well in Tests,” he said.

Gavaskar also did not think it was proper to blame the IPL for the Cricket Board’s decision to do away with the Deodhar Trophy limited overs tournament in the 2009-10 season.

“I don’t think it’s due to the IPL. There is so much of international cricket — the Champions League, Sri Lanka’s visit and the tour of Bangladesh. I am sure it will be there (in the coming seasons),” he said.

Looking back at his career eight days before his 60th birthday, the legendary opener said he has cherished the affection bestowed on him by the people of India, above everything else.

“(I look back) on the mate-ship and camaraderie from the cricketing fraternity, and above all the affection the people of India have shown on me. No money can buy that spontaneous affection,” he pointed out.

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