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WHERE SHOULD POWER HITTERS BAT IN T20 CRICKET?

Why do captains and management prefer big hitters like Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard to come into bat with only a few overs left?

Kieron Pollard Hardik Pandya stats
Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya most often come with few overs left. (Credit: BCCI/IPL)

Even though, on most occasions, the bat outweighs the ball in the game’s shortest format, pacing the whole innings can become tricky at times.

If strike-rates are all that matters in a T20 innings, shouldn’t the most explosive batsmen in the team get an opportunity to play as many balls as possible?

Consider this scenario in the encounter between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Mumbai were chasing a score of 166 to win. They got a great start through captain Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock, but RCB struck back with three quick wickets. The batsman who walked out to bat at No 5 in the 11th over was the left-handed Krunal Pandya. Mumbai had Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya waiting in the dugout.

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There is no disrespect to Krunal, but as fielding captain I would have been more worried if big-hitting Pollard had walked out to bat at that stage. Instead, he came out to bat in the 14th over when the required run rate was going in the upwards direction to almost 11 runs an over.

In the same game, one of the best T20 batsmen ever walked into bat for RCB with only four overs left. Even though AB de Villiers isn’t in great touch, he should not be batting below No 4 in a T20 innings because of the caliber he possesses.

Need more time in the middle

Captains and management prefer big hitters like Andre Russell and Pollard to come into bat with only a few overs left. It’s like asking these batsmen to produce miracles all the time when they walk out to bat!

Andre Russell 6000 T20 runs
Andre Russell crossed 6000 T20 runs during his unbeaten 45. (Credit: BCCI)

Even though they are capable of producing big shots, it is always better if they spend some time in the middle before the onslaught. The percentage of winning matches with big hits can go up if they walk in much earlier.

Can put opposition captains under pressure

If the teams start sending these power hitters much higher up the order, the opposition captain will not have a choice but to use his frontline bowlers much earlier than expected. This will allow the likes of Russell and Pollard to play them more cautiously and take the lesser quality bowlers to the cleaners in the end.

This will also ensure other batsmen don’t have to face a greater number of overs from the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and other death over specialists in the end.

So ideally power hitters need to be out there for as many deliveries as possible irrespective of the situation or opposition to inflict maximum damage.

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