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We're very fortunate to have that list of match-winners: Brad Hodge

Brad Hodge Gujarat Lions
Brad Hodge. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Rajkot franchise Gujarat Lions have fared really well in their debut season. They sit comfortably at the top of the points table with 14 points in their kitty, tied with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH have a higher NRR). They have been quite dominant and now appear to be a big threat for other teams as the tournament reaches its decisive stage in a couple of weeks.

Brad Hodge, the head coach of Gujarat, has been quite instrumental in the success which the IPL debutants have enjoyed so far in the tournament. When was asked what’s the secret to the success of the franchise, Hodge quickly pointed out that it was a combination of the right kind of management, players and support staff, but credited Suresh Raina’s leadership overtly.

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“We’ve had some excellent leadership from Suresh,” Hodge said on Friday (May 13). “I’ve encouraged him to be his own leader, his own person, to bring out the leadership qualities that have been within. He’s been behind Mahendra Singh (Dhoni) for a long time, so this was his first opportunity to come and really explore what he’s like as a captain and he’s done that marvellously well.

“One thing we have all across the board are match-winners. We’ve always said that from the two openers that walk out, to the guys that take the new ball, our spinners, Bravo, something like that, who can turn the game with bat or ball. We’re very fortunate to have that list of match-winners. It’s what makes us dangerous, he added.

India’s very own Paul Adams, the 20 -year-old chinaman Shivil Kaushik, has emerged as one of the match-winners for the team. Kaushik, who has nabbed four wickets in five matches, with three coming against Kings XI Punjab, clearly has his coach’s support. However, the youngster was also pulled up for his shortcomings, rightly so.

“He’s been outstanding,” Hodge said. “He’s a young man who’s come into the side with little experience. His work ethic has been outstanding, he’s taken on any sort of advice that’s been given to him. He’s still got some areas to improve. He knows his fielding is not up to the standard it needs to be at this level. But he’s only a youngster, he’s understanding what it’s like to be an IPL player and everything that comes with it.

“But he offers something that is unique and different and in the world of cricket that’s fairly important. We’ll continue to work with Shivil. His application has been outstanding. He’s only been travelling at just over 6-6.5 an over, as a cricket player, as a bowler, that’s pretty good very good actually,” Hodge added.

Although Gujarat find themselves at the top of the table, the only bone of contention for qualification if it does come down to that, is their net run rate, which is -0.138, while Hyderabad, who are at the top have one of +0.417. Gujarat have a good chance of upping theirs against Bangalore tomorrow that have a fragile bowling unit and with a side that can match up to RCB’s power, they’re in with a good chance.

“I think when we had a couple of bad losses in the tournament earlier, we knew that did affect our NRR, but having said that, we’ve maintained a fairly good winning streak and if we can continue that form here to the end of the tournament, that should nullify the poor run-rate.

“We’ve got a good defensive bowling line-up to stop that 200 score, but we’ve also got a pretty dynamic batting line-up that can track down any sort of score. I’m fairly certain that whatever way it goes, we’ve got some power that matches RCB power,” Hodge said.

In this edition of the tournament, so far, 36 times that teams have opted to chase have resulted in 24 wins, while the six times that teams have opted to bat first has seen only one win. When asked why there has been a trend of opting to chase this entire season, Hodge said,

“Maybe it’s the wickets, which have been a little bit better this IPL; which is interesting because the World Cup really didn’t show that the wickets were that great. But the wickets here have been unbelievably good for batting. When I walk out and see the wickets myself I get a little bit thirsty to have a walk out there and have a bat.

“Players also are a little bit more comfortable with chasing, they’re also more knowledgeable, IPL sides have big power hitters down the order so nothing is out of reach…There are certain venues that lend itself towards that, like Chinnaswamy, with 55m boundaries, which are just not big enough in this modern day. Guys walk out to the centre and look to hit into the top tier. I think that really stems from confidence, where you can be behind the run-rate but a couple of big hits and you can be back in the game. That lends itself towards the modern chase. But scoreboard pressure does amount for a lot of things as well, come the back end of the tournament,” he concluded.

Also, Read – IPL 2016 reaches massive 317 million viewers

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