Eoin Morgan, the England captain, set the world record for most sixes in an ODI innings after hitting 17 sixes in England’s match against Afghanistan. Rashid Khan, one of the best spinners in modern day Cricket, got hit for 110 runs- another world record. It was against the backdrop of England having scored 397 against them that the Afghanistan team had to play the match against India, another side that are favourites to win the World Cup. Scores of something around 400 were expected, nay- they were demanded. It wasn’t too much of a stretch either, this expectation of fireworks from a star-studded batting line-up. But as we all now know; the match turned out to be a study of defying expectations. India’s batting unit failed for the first time in recent memory, as nobody except the captain Virat Kohli was able to get going. The Afghan bowlers made a fantastic comeback from the previous match, restricting India to a paltry total. While they ultimately failed to pull off what would certainly have been the highlight of their young cricket career so far, their careful planning and execution was a treat to watch.
In fact, throughout the tournament, Afghanistan’s story has been one of ‘so close yet so far’. How have the rookies improved so much? And beyond this, how did India pull off an unlikely victory? A common link between both these scenarios has been the clear division of roles and responsibilities between individual players. Each player knows what is expected of them, and they have strived to play at a level matching those expectations. Sometimes the entire team of experts and analysts can get things wildly wrong. Just look at the predictions made before the match that said India would steamroll Afghanistan. Yet, it is up-to the backroom coaching staff to make sure that each selected player is an ideal fit for that position, and to figure out the most effective team combination. This holds true for any field. Each employee must be placed into roles that exploit their capabilities and talents to the maximum, giving them opportunities to utilise skills unique to them. So how did this division of roles help Afghanistan improve their performance and enabled India to pull off an unlikely victory?
The Spin Strategy
The Afghanistan spinners collectively took 5 wickets and did not let India score more than 50 runs in any period of ten overs. This is an astounding statistic considering the batting arsenal of the Indian team. The spinners combined to make rotating strike difficult for the batsman and did not allow easy boundaries. This increased the pressure on the batsmen and stifled the run rate, ultimately resulting in India’s lowest total batting first since 2010!
Sticking to a similar strategy and grouping together like-minded employees can boost productivity and give great results. Following a plan which suits your skills and is designed to play to your strengths is likely to be more effective than any other strategy. Once you have identified the employees for a project, the work strategy moving forward should be tailor made to their capabilities.
Taking The Match Till The End
Both teams gave us some very important lessons in this respect. The Afghanistan batsmen tried to bat out the entire 50 overs against India. In retrospect, however, this was not the best strategy. They waited too long, and India was ultimately able to use its experience to snatch victory back from the jaws of defeat. No batsman played the anchor role effectively, and they kept losing wickets at regular intervals, never comfortably ahead.
On the other hand, India rode on a terrific bowling performance to take the match till the end. They did not allow Afghanistan to get too ahead of them at any point, and the pressure at the end combined with fine bowling performances helped them register a victory.
A blanket strategy cannot be applied to all situations. Plans must be customised and scenario specific. Teams need to adapt and improvise, their response should be based on the present context, instead of sticking to a rigid strategy. This gives the employees room for innovation and improves overall quality of the output. This becomes all the more important when you find certain priority projects getting extended beyond planned timelines and your resources start stretching thin.
Using Your Star Player Wisely
Even though Shami’s hattrick was the undisputed highlight of the match, it was Bumrah’s accurate bowling that swung the match in India’s favour. He chipped in with wickets at important intervals, and his ability to bowl yorkers at will brought India back into the game. An employee that you know is especially talented should be encouraged to show initiative and must be provided the room to innovate. Team leaders need to express faith in them and reassure them of support, so that they can do what they do best without having to worry about unnecessary external factors. They should be given a certain level of freedom to pursue ideas that they believe in, as it would ultimately benefit the entire team.
Of course, everyone may not be able to perform their roles properly. Even Dhoni failed to perform his job properly in the match, following which demands are being made to replace him with younger, fresher talent. His experience might come in handy in the business end of the tournament, or he might just disappoint. There can be no guarantees. However, something that can be said with certainty is that as long as each role is being filled with candidates that are likely to suit the role perfectly, positive results will follow.