Delhi Daredevils v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Delhi April 17, 2017

Dissecting the Daredevils batting order

Aakash Chopra analyses the Delhi Daredevils batting order, and offers insight into some of the more curious events during their game against Kolkata Knight Riders

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Why is Sanju Samson opening?

Sanju Samson batted at No. 3 in Pune and got a century. Since then, he's opened and looked brilliant. Form is gold in T20, and therefore, there is merit in promoting Samson to the top. Daredevils, in the past, have been guilty of not acknowledging the importance of form. They have been happy to select the team and decide the batting order. That's why the move to open with Samson must be lauded.

This year, the standout feature of Samson's batting has been his timing. He's one of the few batsmen with almost no trigger movement; that's why he's rarely off-balance. But, it must also be noticed that while Samson starts with a bang, he slows down radically soon after. In Pune, the first 19 balls produced 35 runs, and the following 19 fetched him only 13. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, he scored 27 runs off his first 12 balls, but slowed down after the introduction of spin, managing only 12 off the next 13 balls.

Why isn't Rishabh Pant batting higher?

Even before Samson hit his straps, Rishabh Pant had made his presence felt. He is one of the brightest talents in Indian cricket, having shown both the range of strokes and the ability to stay unfazed under pressure. While Samson merited a promotion, Pant is demanding to get a bigger share of the 120 balls. He has batted at Nos. 5, 4, 5 and 5. It's frustrating to observe that his ability to hit big shots is working against him.

Pant versus Narine

As Sunil Narine bowled his first ball to Pant, the field placement had Gambhir written all over it. He had a slip and a silly point in place. Gambhir is one of the few captains in the IPL who genuinely believes that taking wickets is the best way to stop runs, and that everyone is equally vulnerable at the start of an innings. While this tactic was worth applauding, it was equally heartening to see Pant's response to the first two deliveries from Narine. Most young batsmen, especially when playing Narine for the first time, plant their front foot down the pitch. But Pant nonchalantly went on the back foot and played him through the leg side, as if he had grown up playing cricket with Narine and had read his variation from the hand.

Rishabh Pant is in terrific form, but doesn't bat up the order © AFP

Why is Mathews batting ahead of Morris?

Daredevils' batting order has raised a few eyebrows. It's quite apparent that they are desperately trying to bring Karun Nair into form. While there's some rationale in keeping faith in Nair, it was surprising to see Angelo Mathews walking ahead of Chris Morris. If it wasn't for Pant's 38 off 16 balls, Daredevils wouldn't have managed even 150.

Were Morris and Cummins held back too late?

At one stage Knight Riders were 21 for 3, and that's when you expect the bowling unit to exert more pressure and look for wickets. While Zaheer Khan did hunt for a wicket for a while, he went on the defensive in the middle overs. He seemed concerned about getting through Mohammaed Shami's overs and, with both Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan set, Amit Mishra's overs as well. The fielders he had in the circle were on the edge and weren't trying to stop singles, which allowed the partnership to grow.

The 13th and 14th overs were bowled by Mathews and Zaheer, though Morris and Cummins had three and two left respectively. One could understand Zaheer wanting to save Morris for overs 15, 17 and 19, and Cummins for the 16th and 18th. But Pandey and Yusuf were aware of that too. They scored 26 in those two overs, bridging the gap between runs required and balls remaining.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jatin on April 20, 2017, 9:52 GMT

    Mathews shouldn't play at all, he is useless and most overrated player in my opinion. Corey Anderson is a much better option than Mathews any day!!

  • RanjithKumar on April 19, 2017, 10:18 GMT

    KEEPCALMANDSLAPTHEUMPIRE ohhhhh man come on yar you are forgotten BOWLER IS leader cum best wise bowler in this IPL that is ZAHEER KHAN MAN

  • Olivier on April 19, 2017, 6:32 GMT

    Call me foolish but Mathews shouldn't be at 6 or 7 period. He's a guy who gets his eye in and then can unleash like the best of them. Batting him at 3 or 4 should be needed. 1. Samson. 2. Pant. 3. Iyer. 4. Mathews. 5. Billings (did the same job for Sydney Sixers well) 6. Nair (Why not? he's not doing well up the order so maybe facing only a few balls might teach him to improvise at the death) 7. Morris (higher up if the top order does well) 8. Cummins. 9. Shami. 10. Nadeem. 11. Another bowler can't remember who.

  • ithris4422215 on April 19, 2017, 6:12 GMT

    Pant open the innings with Billings..sansu best in no 3.. Dravid pls stop the experiment & rotation policy

  • chatwi7475393 on April 19, 2017, 5:58 GMT

    Pant should be keeper for odi and T20 in Indian team. No more Dhoni pls. He is struggling. We want make pant a better player for world cup

  • Prem on April 19, 2017, 2:11 GMT

    Gambhir is the best captain in the current IPL and Zaheer Khan and Steve Smith the worst.

  • iammsa6797072 on April 18, 2017, 20:27 GMT

    Ya promoting sanju is good. If Karin Nair is dropped then the only replacement is Aditya Tare which doesntbmake much of a difference. Si I'd rather back Karun.

    And about Pant's batting position ,he may look good at the top as well , but it isn't about an individual here you have to look at the balance of the XI. There isn't a possible indian replacement for at No.5. Someone has to bat there right?! And about Mathews batting at No.6 .I am a big fan of Morris but you have to get your facts right. okay now Angelo Mathews us the captain of the SriLankan team and he is an outstanding player. Yes he isn't at his best in the IPL but think again. When you pick a player you pick him with confidence! And Morris after all isn't a perfect batsman, you want him to come in only after 15 overs. And if you want Morris ahead of Mathews then why bother picking Mathews in the first place!!

  • chatwi7475393 on April 18, 2017, 17:45 GMT

    Dravid has habit of experimenting weird things. Bcos of dropping in form player like nadeem dd faced a backdrop. No doubt why Dravids team Wil be a ordinary team in 2nd half of the tournament after a strong start. Dravid has to b blamed f or his experimentation

  • IndTheBest on April 18, 2017, 14:43 GMT

    Liked article of Aakash Chopra as usual. Pant should bat higher #4 instead of #5. Nair should be replaced by Aditya Tare who can take #6 spot. Iyer can be moved up to #3. Otherwise DD has pretty solid balanced team. Nair can spend few days outside and practice on net. He can come back soon and become a trump card for the DD then but now is a time for him to take a small break.

  • Yogesh on April 18, 2017, 13:49 GMT

    cooljack_143 - while there is some merit in what you say, I feel Aakash has a shrewd cricketing brain himself and can analyze situations in a detached fashion. Dravid is one of my favorite cricketers, coaches and human beings. But - he does have a T20 history (right from his Rajasthan Royal days) of fiddling around with combinations, players, playing positions, thereby leading his team to throw away games they should have won. Pant is the most exciting batting talent we have and is blessed with a cool temperament. Karun Nair should be dropped and allowed to find his thoughts before playing again in an XI even in the IPL, what to speak of playing in the Indian team. Nair is the new Yuvraj Singh - can't bat, can't field, can't bowl.

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