27.03.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMGone are the days when opening an innings was considered as a job of the specialists. With the advent of ODIs and T20I, the concept of the make-shift opener has gained momentum. In white ball cricket, one could find versatile players opening the batting and bowling for their team with nonchalant ease.
In good old days, Team India used to have Roger Binny, Manoj Prabhakar and Irfan Pathan who often were asked to open both the batting and bowling. It used to help India maintain their team balance. In IPL history, players like Jacques Kallis have done this before. But then, Kallis was a player of a different class.
In IPL 2019 too, there are possibilities of a few players who might open both the batting and bowling in a few matches. Again, it is up to the captain of the respective teams to utilize the potential of a particular player to the optimum level. It also depends on the match situation and the strength and weakness of the opposition.
In this article, we will discuss three such players who have have the ability to open both the batting and bowling for their respective teams.
#3. David Willey(CSK)David Willey has opened the batting in first-class T20 matches. In fact, his best effort with the bat in T20s came while opening the batting for Northamptonshire against Sussex when he scored a 100 off 41 balls. He has shown his value to the team as a batsman whenever he has been promoted up the order.
Apart from being an effective opening bowler who could swing the new ball prodigiously, Willey is a clean striker of the ball. Besides, the absence of Lungi Ngidi might force CSK to select Willey in away matches and Mitchell Santner in home matches. With the abundance of quality Indian batsmen in the squad, CSK might look to play either Shane Watson or Faf de Plessis and not both.
In the first match of IPL 2019 against RCB, CSK selected only 3 overseas players in their playing XI. The Chepauk wicket made the presence of Shardul Thakur redundant in the match. CSK should look to replace Thakur with David Willey and use him to open the batting and bowling.
The England player could open the batting with the other overseas player, Shane Watson to make it a left-hand right-hand opening combination. Again in bowling too, he could provide the left-right combination. In such a case, Rayadu could come in at No. 4 where he has every reason to prove himself ahead of the World Cup. That would also make CSK’s middle order more formidable.
David Willey could be a wonderful option for CSK to open the batting and bowling
#2. Sunil Narine(KKR)Sunil Narine was promoted to open the innings in IPL 2018 and he was an instant success. Narine scored 357 runs in IPL 2018 at a strike rate of 190 apart from taking 17 wickets in the season. With his all-around performance, Narine accumulated 379 points to be adjudged the Most Valuable Player(MVP) of IPL 2018.
In IPL history, Narine has opened for KKR in 26 matches and scored 565 runs at a strike rate of 188. In IPL 2018, in two matches, he opened both the batting and bowling for KKR.
Narine opening the batting for KKR would lend more balance to the team. Besides, in almost every opposition team, there is always an opening batsman or a No. 3 who is a left-hander. Hence, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for KKR to open the bowling with off-spinner Narine. A couple of wickets at the top from him would derail the opposition.
#1. Shane Watson (CSK)In IPL 2018, Shane Watson accumulated 318 points and came second in the race for the Most Valuable Player with Sunil Narine. Like Narine, in last year’s IPL, Watson opened both the batting and bowling in two matches. With the available bowling resources at his disposal, Dhoni used Watson sparingly as a bowler fearing injury.
While the former Aussie all-rounder regularly opens the batting for CSK, in IPL 2019, in the absence of Ngidi, Watson might be asked to open the bowling with Deepak Chahar or David Willey in away matches.
Watson is more than a useful bowler who is capable of giving crucial breakthroughs to his team. A couple of overs from him with the new ball should provide Dhoni with more flexible bowling options at the back end of the innings.