With the introduction of Twenty-20 (T20) cricket, and more so with the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the various other T20 leagues across the world, the game of cricket has been witnessing close encounters and nail-biting finishes more than ever.
The shortest format of the game has an unpredictable vibe to it as any player playing it come with the power to turn the game on his/her head within moments. Thus, most of the T20 matches are played on equal footings with no clear-cut favourites.
The chances of a match finishing with scores level have also increased dramatically and thus the concept of Super Over was brought into effect. The one-over-a-side contest at the end of a tied match is excitement and thrill at its peak and they have not limited themselves to the T20 cricket only.
However, as we head towards the 13th edition of the IPL, which has produced the most number of super overs (9) among any other leagues in the world, we take a look at the two probable batsmen from every franchise who might take to the crease in case their team find themselves in a tied encounter.
Here are the opening pairs:
1. Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson and MS Dhoni
One of the most successful teams in the history of IPL, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) don’t have the same success rate in super overs. They have lost both of their matches which have ended in super overs but with Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the captain, one can never put them out of the game.
If the situation ever arises in the upcoming IPL, Dhoni should be the one facing the first ball of the super over, given he is the best hitter and the finisher of his team. The world has witnessed his finishing skill on repeat mode for a prolonged period and when the IPL strike-rate of 137.85 is added with the tonnes of experience he has, the bowlers are under his mercy.
The batsman at the other end could be Shane Watson who again brings bags full of experience and the ability to manipulate bowlers unlike many among the active cricketers. He has the IPL strike-rate of almost 140 and it will be his timing and the strong wristwork which the CSK team management will be looking for during a super-over.
2. Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer
The winner of IPL’s second-last super over, Delhi Capitals have one of the strongest batting line-ups in store for IPL 2020. With Indian youngsters like Shreyas Iyer and Prithvi Shaw and the experience of Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, Delhi have foreign firepowers like Jason Roy, Alex Carey and Shimron Hetmeyer as well.
But if a situation of super over comes, Shaw should be the one facing the first ball. He has already shown his ability in facing new ball of both colours and was on fire with a brilliant 99 in the last super-over game that Delhi won. He has all kinds of shots in his arsenal which added with his IPL strike-rate of 141.04 makes him a real threat in the dying moments of a match.
The other batsman should be Shreyas Iyer. He has become a mainstay in the Indian middle-order in both the forms of white-ball cricket. He is a batsman like Virat Kohli who doesn’t believe much in fancy shots and trusts his basics to do the hard works and that is what makes him a tough contender to bowl at.
3. Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell and KL Rahul
With two super overs in their IPL record and win in both of them, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) certainly know how to pull the tricks in this kind of a situation. With batsmen like Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran, the KXIP will be one of the most feared batting opponents in a super over.
With Maxwell, Punjab will not have much of a headache to decide who will face the first ball of the deciding over. After returning from his break, which he had taken due to his mental health conditions, the 31-year-old has turned into a different kind of beast. Leading Melbourne Stars in the ongoing BBL, he is currently batting at a strike-rate of 157. With his stupendous power-hitting form if one adds his IPL smashing-rate of 161.13, Maxwell emerges as the most sought-after batsman for a super-over.
The one assisting Maxwell at the other end has to be Rahul. He was one of the most successful Indian batsmen in 2019 with a better T20I average among the openers, including Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. He batted at a brisk rate of 142.40 in 2019 and his versatile batting in any position makes him the real contender to bat in a super over.
4. Kolkata Knight Riders: Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan
One of the most intelligent franchises when it comes to buying and fielding players, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have always been the most perfect example of how fresh talents should be blended with experienced international campaigners. But when it comes to super over, Kolkata fare the worst among other IPL team with three defeats on as many occasions.
However, if a similar situation arises in 2020 they have their artillery prepared. With Andre Russell‘s brute power and an out-of-the-world IPL strike-rate of 186.42, the KKR thinktank know exactly who will face the first ball of the super over for them. The big West Indian was never a naturally-gifted hitter like a Chris Gayle or Kieron Pollard, but that did not stop him from taking the hard way to transform himself into one of the strongest batsmen of this generation.
England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan was roped in the auction for his second stint in Kolkata. One of the most skilfull batsmen of modern times, Morgan is the best option for KKR to open the super-over innings with Russell. With his strike-rate of 132.5, there are not many batsmen who can manipulate a bowling attack and see boundaries with ease like the 33-year-old Irishman.
5. Mumbai Indians: Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard
The most successful team in the history of the cash-rich league, Mumbai Indians will again start the tournament as one of the favourites to lift the trophy. They are the winners of the last super over which was played in the IPL. Scoring a paltry 9 in their six balls, Mumbai had restricted Sunrisers Hyderabad dramatically for just 8.
Mumbai Indians possibly own the most versatile batting line-up with batters for all kind of situation. And if they fall into a super over, Kieron Pollard should be the go-to man for the Rohit Sharma-led side. He’s not a brutal heater like an Andre Russell but his ability to read the game and mix it with his strong arms makes him a dangerous contender in the deciding situations. With an IPL strike-rate of 146.78, how he bats in a super over will decide Mumbai’s fate to a large extent.
Hardik Pandya must take the non-striker’s end for the slogging ability that he possesses. Be it an outside-the-off or a straighter delivery, the 26-year-old brings into effect the bottom hand, much like MS Dhoni, to send the ball flying over the ropes. And his strike-rate of 154.78 should give Rohit Sharma the belief that the all-rounder can pull it off for his team.
6. Rajasthan Royals: Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler
The winners of IPL’s first-ever super over, Rajasthan Royals has an overall success ratio 2:1 in the deciding over. Like Mumbai Indians, they are another team who have built the batting line-up keeping in mind the requirements of different situations.
In case of super over, they have a player like Ben Stokes who will undoubtedly face the first ball. A cricketer who has not seen a downward graph in the last two years or so, Stokes has the ability to bat in any kind of circumstance. Though his IPL strike-rate of 132.02 is not very high compared to the other batsmen in the list but his super-over heroics in the final of ICC World Cup 2019 is still fresh in the memory of everyone.
Stokes is likely to have the support of his national teammate Jos Buttler from the other end. One of the cleanest hitters of the white-ball, Buttler can turn a game on his head within a span of few deliveries. With an astonishing strike-rate of 150+, the English wicketkeeper-batsman knows how to deal with the nerve-wracking finishing stages.
7. Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers
The best team to have never won the title, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are expected to throw a strong threat to the other seven sides in the 13th edition of IPL. Their super-over history is balanced with one loss and one victory and interestingly both the matches were played in 2013.
However, if they are to play another one in 2020, skipper Virat Kohli will definitely be the one to face the first ball. Nothing much is needed to be spoken about what King Kohli can do on a cricket field as his numbers and records talk louder than any words. The RCB captain will know that in case of a dire situation, the team will expect him to lead from the front. Also, his nature to cherish challenges is what makes him the most dangerous batsman in any situation.
With AB de Villiers in the team, the RCB team management will not break their heads into deciding who will Kohli partner. He may not be the cricketer he was two years ago, but there is hardly anyone with similar skills like de Villiers with the bat. The world knows why the South African legend is called Mr. 360 and it is the all-around hitting ability that will still make him one of the most feared batsmen in the deciding stages of a match.
8. Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner and Mohammad Nabi
The Sunrisers Hyderabad have won their super over that they were part of back in 2013 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, while lost the second one against Mumbai in 2019. And if a similar situation arises this year, one can expect them to be perfectly prepared.
One of the best modern-day batsmen, David Warner can unarguably be one of the most successful IPL cricketers as well. He will be the number one choice to open the super-over innings for Hyderabad. With an average of above 43 and strike-rate of 142.39, Warner will pose a challenge to the best of the bowlers.
Though not much known for his batting prowess, Nabi possesses an impeccable ability to flex his arms at any kind of deliveries. His power-hitting ability is on full display in this season’s Big Bash League (BBL) where he is currently hitting at a rate of 172.88. His IPL strike rate is also impressive at 148.35. And if he can replicate his BBL heroics, he will win the match for Hyderabad with ease in the super over.
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