In the buildup to IPL-6, I was studying the Sunrisers Hyderabad and doing what I do with every team: Trying to put together their best 11 and seeing how strong it looks. I put down seven players and couldn't put together an eighth. I had four overseas players, Parthiv Patel, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma (remember Shikhar Dhawan wasn't available for the first half). In a 16-game event, you need to have 14 or 15 players and about 10 or 11 Indian players who won't look out of place in a match. If the IPL had a relegation system I thought they would be contenders.
But sport teaches you never to accept perception and never to fear defeat. They picked Tom Moody, a tough, straight talking man with a positive outlook and then they started assigning roles to people.
He didn't have much to play with initially, J.P. Duminy was injured and Darren Sammy was still on West Indies duty.
But as the season progressed, three key players emerged. In Karan Sharma they found a wonderful, attacking leg spinner and I am appalled they haven't found a bigger role for him in Indian cricket. Then with their two all-rounders they fortified the side. Neither Thisara Perera nor Darren Sammy were likely to send shudders down anyone's spine but they had a role and it was well defined.
There is a lesson there for all T20 sides. This isn't only a slam-bang game, it has its ebbs and flows, you have to play a holding game sometimes and you need the right people to do that. That was Parthiv Patel's role and when he didn't fulfil it initially, he was left out. Remember, he had opened for India in England and now was being dropped from a weak franchise side! It made him a better player. And young Hanuma Vihari was told to build an innings. They didn't mind making 50 or 55 in the first 10 overs but they couldn't afford to lose wickets. They needed the base for Sammy and Perera.
Both of them bat at number seven or eight for their national team in 50 overs cricket. It means they should be able to handle a situation coming in to bat in the 35th over. In a T20 situation, therefore, they should be fine to bat after the 10th over.
And so, at number five and six, it empowered them to play as batsmen and not merely as sloggers which another franchise, with a deeper batting line-up, might have required them to.
They flowered as batsmen. And so, with a wicket keeper and two bowlers in the top six, they could play an extra bowler and in doing so made a huge statement about how T20 should be played.
Most teams pack their sides with batsmen on the principle that even if two come good every time they will win more than they will lose. But sometimes it can take away the responsibility on each player and good batsmen like to have an important well-defined role. Often playing an extra batsman means you might score the runs but struggle to defend a total.