It’s been 13 years since the first game of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was played. And still, it never ceases to stun the audience with its unpredictability. It is evident from the iconic encounter between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020, where the teams needed to play two Super Overs for the outcome. Notably, Punjab’s win in that game also ensured that this year’s tournament is wide open, and anyone can qualify for the playoffs if they play good cricket for the next couple of weeks.
Once again the tournament has been dominated by batsmen. The scores of 180 have been normalcy. Besides, the 200-mark has also been breached on a few occasions. However, most of the teams are still struggling to find their fixed batting order, and it needs to be sorted out quickly. Otherwise, they will pay for it at the business end of the tournament. In simple terms, some teams have few more games to put an end to their batting conundrums.
Here is the list of team-wise one batsman whose batting position can be changed in IPL 2020 :
1) Kolkata Knight Riders – Dinesh Karthik
The return of Lockie Ferguson to the playing XI has certainly given a boost to the Kolkata Knight Riders. In his first game of the season only, the Kiwi helped the team snatch two important points with his Man of the Match performance in the Super Over tie against Sunrisers Hyderabad. And now the team is looking more settled even in the absence of their star bowler, Sunil Narine. Though they still have to win games to qualify for the playoffs, their roadmap is a little more clear.
Having said that, the team has to sort out their batting department. At the moment, they are juggling their batsmen like the clubs in a circus. Thus it is time that they figure out a proper batting order so that each of their batters gets utilised in the right way. And they can do that by pushing an experienced head like Dinesh Karthik at the top. To be precise, at No.3 where Nitish Rana has failed to convert his starts throughout the season.
Till now, Karthik has been wasted by the team management down the order. The right-hander has been used as a finisher rather than using him as an innings builder. He has successfully played the latter role in the past for the Mumbai Indians. In 2013, Karthik gathered over 500 runs while batting at No.3 for the Rohit Sharma-led side. Hence Kolkata should try slotting him in that position for the rest of the season.
2) Rajasthan Royals – Ben Stokes
Half the season is done, and the Rajasthan Royals are yet to find their apt playing XI. More importantly, by making too many changes in the search of winning combinations, now the team has left themselves with an improbable task of winning all of their remaining fixtures. Even then, they will have to wait for some other results to go in their favor. In all, it has been a poor season for the Royals, and they have only themselves to blame for the nightmare scenario.
Especially, some of their bizarre tactics have cost them heavily. The most baffling one being the continuous shuffling of their batting order. And the best example to prove the point is Ben Stokes’ situation. The team is using a middle-order batsman like him as an opener. And to accommodate him, they have now demoted one of the world’s dangerous T20 batsman, Jos Buttler. Unfortunately, the move has backfired till now.
Stokes is a quality player of spin-bowling and can solve Rajasthan’s middle-order woes easily. As it happens in his debut IPL season, he scored over 300 runs while batting at No.5 position. In that season, he also scored a century. From that, one can say that he knows the art of holding the fort in tricky situations and can also play big shots whenever the situation demands. Besides, his presence in the middle-order will allow the top-order to play freely. So Rajasthan should consider making that change as soon as possible.
3) Chennai Super Kings – Ambati Rayudu
For the Chennai Super Kings fans, the IPL 2020 has been a tough pill to swallow. Their team have been unable to take off from the base and are now wandering in unknown territory. They have lost half-a-dozen games. And now, to have any chance to make it to the final four, they have to pull off miracles in the coming times. Although they have done such things in the past, it will be extremely difficult for them this time around with the amount of out-of-form players and weak back-up options.
Such has been their misery that some unexpected things have happened in this season. For instance, MS Dhoni changing his playing XI and tinkering with the batting order, which is not a usual sight in the IPL. Still, it hasn’t worked for the three-time champions as they seem to create a new hole while plugging the other. In particular, it has been the case with Sam Curran, who’s been opening the innings. While searching for quick runs in the powerplays, the team have reduced its firepower down the order.
However, it can be changed if they decide to tinker their batting order with a better perspective. Like pushing Ambati Rayudu to the opening slot. The Hyderabad batsman has an impressive track record while opening the innings. In his 15 outings, he has scored more than 400 runs, including an IPL century. Rayudu has been striking it well and so it will be wise to use him when there are field restrictions. On the contrary, Curran is needed in the end overs with Dhoni’s finishing skills on the wane.
4) Kings XI Punjab – Chris Gayle
The Kings XI Punjab pulled off one of the most memorable wins in the history of the league by beating Mumbai Indians in the first-ever twin super over encounter of IPL. By winning that game, they have kept their playoff chances alive in this season. It seems that the arrival of Chris Gayle has ignited a spark in the team. However, still, a lot of work needs to be done if they want to make it a return for the ages. They surely have the resources, but they will have to use them in a better way.
Firstly, the team need a change in its batting structure. They should strengthen their middle-order, and the other important thing is the batting position of Chris Gayle. The veteran has batted at an unusual No.3 position in both his outings. In one of the games, he also struck a half-century, but Punjab should not continue with it for a longer period. For the simple reason that Gayle is an established opener, and he has a monumental track record while playing that role.
Agreed that Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul have been unstoppable at the top, but both cannot replicate what the Universe Boss can do to the opposition bowlers at the start. He can instill fear in any bowling attack with his mere presence on the 22 yards. Punjab need that kind of influence, and for that, they should swap Mayank’s position with Gayle. The other thing is that nowadays, Gayle needs some time to settle before he can take off, and sometimes in middle-overs that can’t be possible with his inability to run quick singles and doubles. So for the greater good, Gayle should bat as Punjab’s first-choice opener.
5) Sunrisers Hyderabad – Kane Williamson
With three consecutive losses, now the Sunrisers Hyderabad are in a spot of bother. Not only they will have to win all of their remaining games, but they will also need help from other teams if they want to make it to the next stage. In other words, it is going to be an uphill task for them in the following couple of weeks. And if things go wrong, they will have to pack their bags early in the IPL 2020. They have reached this critical point owing to some tactical errors.
One being the improper utilisation of their batting resources. Hyderabad have been too much focused on their wobbly middle-order that they have failed to assign a fixed batting position to a player like Kane Williamson. On some days, he has plied his trade in the middle-order, and on others, he has been their finisher. And in their recent encounter against KKR, he opened the innings for them. A cricketer indeed has to be flexible in T20s, but Williamson is too good a batsman to be swapped around.
The right-hander can be their reliable No.3 as Manish Pandey hasn’t been at his usual best in that position. He can play the anchor’s role to perfection if the team loses an early wicket. And his numbers also prove the same as he averages 40 while batting at No.3. Besides the youngster, Priyam Garg can be sandwiched between him and Pandey at No.5. So the Hyderabad team management should consider the move before time runs out.
6) Royal Challengers Bangalore – Virat Kohli
The Royal Challengers Bangalore seem to be getting better and better with each outing. And that’s the reason, unlike the last two seasons, the Virat Kohli-led side are comfortably placed in the top half of the points table. They also have a golden opportunity to finish as one of the top two teams in the league stages, which will help them in having two cracks in the playoffs. Still, the team will need to iron out some flaws before the knockouts.
One of them is their batting approach in the powerplay. Apart from a couple of games, RCB haven’t gotten rollicking starts in the first six overs. Both Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal have been unable to get going, and their strike rates of 114 and 122 verify the fact. These slow starts have put the team in a box, but the brilliance of AB de Villiers has masked the problem to an extent. Hence the team should make a bold move of promoting Virat Kohli at the expense of Finch in the upcoming games.
In his golden IPL season of 2016, Virat scored four centuries while opening the innings. His average also shoots to 49 from 38 as an opener. Interestingly, it might also turn to be fruitful for Finch as his numbers as a middle-order batsman in IPL are way better than his opening stats. Finch averages 32 when he bats at No.4 position, and his strike rate of 146 further validates the point. In all, RCB should take every possible step, which benefits them if they have to win their maiden championship.
7) Mumbai Indians – Kieron Pollard
The Mumbai Indians will be a little upset after their twin Super Over loss to the Kings XI Punjab. Though it hasn’t affected their position in the points table, such a loss can demoralise a team. Especially in the second half of the season, where things can quickly go wrong as a team can lose confidence after such a nerve-wracking outing. With that being said, this team can bounce back from any situation. The team is full of tough-minded cricketers.
They are the only side who can beat their opposition even when their star players have a poor day on the field. The kind of balance they have is unreal. However, there is always a scope for improvement, and it is the same with the Mumbai Indians. By making a small change in their batting order, they can become invincible. And pushing Kieron Pollard up the order can make it happen. It might sound odd considering the presence of the Pandya brothers in the playing XI, but Pollard needs to play more balls.
With the kind of form he is in, Pollard can destroy the oppositions single-handedly. In the last ten T20 innings, he has been dismissed only once. And to add to that, he has scored over 200 runs while mostly batting at No.7. He has been the alpha finisher in IPL with his strike close to 220. Every time Mumbai Indians have been short of runs, Pollard has come and played a game-changing knock in this season. Hence, now he deserves a promotion in the batting order. It might be tricky, but it can be rewarding if the move pays off.
8) Delhi Capitals – Shimron Hetmyer
With a resounding win against Chennai Super Kings, the Delhi Capitals have flung open the doors of playoffs. They became the first team to achieve 14 points in this season, bridge of the qualifying mark. And now, they just need to consolidate their position in the table to enjoy the perks of being the most consistent side in the league stage. Their only concern will be the loss of their couple of players to injury, as now they cannot afford more players getting benched in the final laps of the tournament.
For Delhi, the good news is that most of their players have hit the purple patch at the right time. In particular, the batting unit has seen multiple stars standing up for the team at crucial junctures. Besides, a couple of their top-order players have also been in red-hot form. Sadly, that means they haven’t been able to fit in a match-winner like Shimron Hetmyer in his usual batting position. The Caribbean star has batted at No.6 in most of his outings.
He has been playing the role of a finisher for the team. Though he has the power game to succeed in that role, he can be more destructive up the order. Hetmyer can run riot on the opposition bowlers with his striking abilities. Thus Delhi can think of using him in the top order occasionally. In a tournament like IPL, anything can happen on a given day and so every player should be given enough game time. That’s why the experiment is worth trying.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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