When Kings XI Punjab had 198 runs on the board, not many would have thought that Mumbai Indians will gun it down within 16 overs, 15.3 to be precise. Although the surface was every batsman’s fantasy, but the pressure while chasing such a colossal target is always huge. On most of the occasions, a centurion in T20 format would end up on the winning side. But, on this occasion, Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 104 was camouflaged by some brutal power-hitting from MI’s top-order.
With a target as big as 199, the chasing team had hardly anything to lose. It inevitably gave them the liberty to go for full monty and come out all guns blazing, which was rightly done by the MI’s top-order, especially Jos Buttler. First and foremost, his elevation at the top, which raised many eyebrows, was a masterstroke by the MI’s think tank. Buttler is someone, who likes to go hard and well capable of clearing the in-field with ease. The kind of liberty aided with field restrictions during the powerplay only suited his style of play and did good for MI’s.
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) April 20, 2017
MI have shown immense faith in Buttler and persisted with him despite any laudable performances in the first six games, which also denied Rohit Sharma from opening the batting. Buttler kept getting starts and looked destructive in his short stints before the KXIP encounter. He needed a good innings under his belt to cement the opener’s slot, which came at a perfect time and put all the questions regarding Rohit as an opener to rest. While chasing 199, Buttler came out blazing from the outset and scripted numerous records in the course.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) April 21, 2017
MI milked 82 runs from the powerplay, which is now their highest score in the history of IPL. His 33-ball 77, which hailed of fives sixes and seven boundaries, is also his finest T20 score till date. Buttler’s onslaught helped MI gun down such a massive total in just 15.3 overs, which is also their highest successful run-chase in the IPL.
MI’s another consistent performer, Nitish Rana, has grabbed the opportunity of batting at three with both the hands and made an impact with some fruitful innings to his name. Rana batted at No.3 on four occasions and made it count by smashing four back-to-back fifties in every outing. He has undoubtedly cemented his spot and has done well at the said position. His elevation has reaped MI fruitful dividends and they have certainly found a gem in him.
The success of these two along with Parthiv Patel’s affection with the opening slot leaves the impactful Rohit Sharma with no choice but to bat at four. Parthiv has only managed few good starts but considering the fact that he keeps wickets and can be handy at the top, MI have invested in him and did not tinker with his spot.
Rohit’s talent is unquestionable and can win his side matches single-handedly but this season has rather been ordinary for the MI skipper. His six innings this season reads – DNB, 40*, 0, 4, 2, 3, awful as per Rohit’s standards. Also, one shouldn’t forget that the 40* runs, which he got against Gujarat Lions, is a side with one of the weakest bowling attacks in the tournament. Not taking any credit away from Rohit in saying so, but he is tailor-made to inflict more damage in T20 cricket than what he has done so far.
Rohit has transformed into an opener, he bats in the top-order for the national side against the white ball. He likes the shine, hardness of the new ball, which he uses with perfection in piercing gaps along with elegant hits in garnering boundaries. It would be very difficult for him to adapt into a middle-order batsman’s shoes out of the blue. Also, they say – your best batsman should bat higher and confront as many deliveries as possible, which is not happening with Rohit. Though MI are investing in young talents, which is a commendable job but a seasoned batsman is being affected by it. Although Rohit has squandered the golden opportunity of batting at three on couple of occasions but MI need to persist with him.
Rohit has struggled big time against spin, being dismissed by spinners on all the four occasions where he got out. He looked bereft of oomph against the spinners and failed to pick the googly or the wrong’un three out of four times where he was dismissed, which is also an indication why needs to face the new ball more often. If Buttler and Rana are delivering, then why not let Rohit replace Parthiv at the top? Only in Parthiv fails to play an impactful innings in the distant future. MI are table-toppers at the moment and have played like heavyweights so far, they can afford to experiment and get things in order before the business end approaches. Rohit is a match-winner, though his parched runs column are not affecting MI at the moment with others clicking, but he needs to be taken into consideration and bat in the top-order, preferably open.
Parthiv gives a solid impression with his attacking approach but has failed to play a long innings and kept perishing after rollicking starts. It’s high time for him to convert and deliver like Butter did. If Parthiv fails to do so in the matches to come, there is no possible reason why Rohit should not be opening the batting for MI. As long as things are working out for MI, they hardly need to disturb the winning combination but playing Rohit at the top is not even a gamble but a smart move.