AN OPEN TOUR­NA­MENT

The Economic Times - - Sports - Nisha Shetty SH CAP­TAIN

DAVID WARNER When you’re out there and you don’t lose a wicket in the first six overs, which is ideal, when you have a part­ner­ship, one bats­man will al­ways keep [the score­board] go­ing

One week i nt o t he In­dian Premier League 2016, it would ap­pear it’s the Year of the Open­ing Bats­man. In nine out of 12 games so far, the open­ers on the win­ning team have scored at least 50% of the to­tal. In the re­main­ing three games, when one of the open­ers was out for zero and the No. 3 bats­man be­came the de facto opener, the “open­ers” have scored at least 58% of the to­tal. Among those do­ing the big­gest chunk of the scor­ing are Kolkata Knight Riders’Gau­tam Gamb­hir and Robin Uthappa – IPL’s sec­ond­most suc­cess­ful open­ing pairafter Chen­nai Su­per Kings’ Michael Hussey and M Vi­jay – who hit 88% of the runs in their open­ing game against Delhi Dare­dev­ils.

David Warner, who blasted 90 out of 59 balls against Mum­bai In­di­ans on Satur­day (April 18) to give Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad their first win of the sea­son, felt that open­ers are primed to suc­ceed in the Twenty20 for­mat be­cause of the time fac­tor. “As an open­ing bats­man, we have 120 balls,” said the Hy­der­abad cap­tain. “So for me when I’m bat­ting, I know if I can face half of those de­liv­er­ies as an open­ing bats­man, I’m do­ing my job for the team.

“The cru­cial thing is to get off to a good start. When you’ve got a bal­anced team you can play your way at the top of the or­der and you have your team in a way where you can have your bankers in the mid­dle to ob­vi­ously have one player to see you through.” Warner, there­fore, wasn’t too fussed about Hy­der­abad’s lack of big hit­ters lower down the or­der. “The top four is where the runs come from,” he stated. “No. 5, 6, 7, you should not worry about them. If we ex­pose them early, of course you’re not go­ing to be able to clear the ropes. But the top four is where the bulk of the runs come and I guar­an­tee you No. 5, 6, 7, 8 will do their job.”

An­other trend that has emerged this IPL is the role of fin­ish­ers. When first over on Mon­day, the 20,000odd fans that turned up at the Ra­jiv Gandhi In­ter­na­tional sta­dium and those watch­ing on tele­vi­sion didn’t wit­ness the typ­i­cal devil-may-care knock from Warner. He un­corked the sixes to­wards the end but, dur­ing overs 5 to 12, was con­tent to go at a strike-rate of 100 or there­about. “When you’re out there and you don’t lose a wicket in the first six overs, which is ideal, when you have a part­ner­ship, one bats­man will al­ways keep [the score­board] go­ing,” ex­plained Warner. “Then when some­one gets out, you al­ways have to say to your­self that I’ll be the one to bat deep. The next bats­man com­ing in should be very busy with­out be­ing silly. But they will be silly and you [have to] con­trol the in­nings from where you are. “That’s how I feel we should be as a bat­ting unit be­cause you want to bat deep and you want to have a set bats­man if not two come the last five overs; that’s where big runs can be scored.”

Eoin Mor­gan echoed Warner’s sen­ti­ment af­ter the game. “I think any suc­cess­ful cam­paign al­ways has big con­tri­bu­tions from the top or­der, whether it’s the top two, three or four. The ma­jor­ity of the time that you have a suc­cess­ful cam­paign or go on tow­ina­tour­na­ment,th­ey­con­tribute quite a lot.”

Fear not dear fans, this doesn’t mean the Brath­waites and the Rus­sell­swill­bere­duced­tospec­ta­tors for the en­tire du­ra­tion of IPL. They’ll have time to strut their stuff soon enough. For now, though, it’s time to toast to the ever-faith­ful Open­ing Bats­man. Car­ry­ing the bat through a com­pleted in­nings has hap­pened 62 times in the his­tory of in­ter­na­tional cricket (50 times in Tests, nine timesinOne-DayIn­ter­na­tion­al­sand three times in T20 In­ter­na­tion­als), sug­gest­ing it is a rather rare oc­cur­rence, but it’s al­ready hap­pened seven times this IPL with half of the sea­son not yet over. In­ter­est­ingly, all sev­enin­stance­soc­curred­whilechas­ing and itre­quired­some ma­tu­rity on the bats­man’s part.

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