IPL 2014 May 15, 2014

Holding back Duminy, Jadhav hurting Daredevils

Certain teams have been very conservative with their batting order, giving their biggest hitters little crease time. The approach has backfired on Delhi Daredevils the most

Imagine you are given a set of eleven names that includes both Steven Smith and Stuart Binny. Now imagine you are asked to arrange them in the batting order. If 100 cricket fans are given this exercise, you would think at least 75 of them - unless they are all rabid Karnataka fans - would bat Smith ahead of Binny, no matter which format this hypothetical XI is playing. It is simple cricketing logic.

Try telling Rajasthan Royals that. This season, Binny has batted nine times for them. He has gone in eight times at No.5, and once at No.6. Smith, meanwhile, has batted seven times, each time at No. 6. This despite the fact that Binny has had a poor season - he averages 16.28, has a strike rate of 115.15 - while Smith has had a good one - average 36.75, strike rate 133.63.

In their last match, against Chennai Super Kings, Royals were 84 for 1 at the 10-over mark before losing two wickets in three overs. At this stage, they could have sent in Smith, who had just struck an unbeaten 21-ball 48 in a fairytale chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Instead, they sent in Binny, who had made scores of 12, 8, 0*, 0, 11, 12 and 1 in his last seven innings.

This sort of thing is all too common in the IPL. Mumbai Indians would send in Aditya Tare and CM Gautam ahead of Kieron Pollard while Kings XI Punjab have promoted Wriddhiman Saha over Glenn Maxwell. Tonight, Royals take on Delhi Daredevils, who have persisted just as stubbornly with tactics that have been just as puzzling. For some reason, they have given their two most consistent batsmen this season an absurdly small share of their 20 overs.

JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav not only own Daredevils' highest averages this season - 66.40 and 69.50 - but also their two highest strike rates. They have done brilliantly as finishers, but thanks to the iffy form of the players batting above them, they have usually converted below-par foundations into mid-size skyscrapers.

You can understand their places in the batting order considering Daredevils have the likes of Quinton de Kock, M Vijay, Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik batting above them, but they have gone to bizarre lengths to keep Duminy and Jadhav stuck down the order, no matter what.

For three straight matches, they promoted Laxmi Shukla ahead of Jadhav. In two of those matches, Shukla walked in ahead of Duminy as well. In those three matches, Shukla made 0 off 2 balls, 10 off 14, and 21 off 22. Daredevils were batting first each time, and they lost each time after setting middling targets.

During the last of those matches, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they sent Shukla in at No. 5, knowing fully well that rain was imminent, knowing fully well that they needed to post as big a total as possible to avoid getting on the wrong end of a Duckworth-Lewis equation.

In the time Shukla was at the crease, Daredevils added 59 runs in 48 balls. When Shukla was out for 21 off 22, both Duminy and Jadhav were on 0, and only 19 balls remained of the 20 overs. For once, both their finishers failed. Daredevils made 143. After a series of rain interruptions during their chase, Sunrisers finally won the match with a score of 44 for 2 after 4.2 overs.

In their next match, against Royal Challengers, Daredevils left out Shukla, and brought in the opener Vijay. Neither Duminy nor Jadhav, therefore, was to get a promotion - not even when Daredevils were set a target of 187. Even then, they sent in Mayank Agarwal, who had not been in particularly great form before that, at No. 3.

By the time Jadhav walked in to join Duminy, Daredevils needed an improbable 85 off 42 balls. Duminy made 48 off 30, Jadhav 37 off 20. Daredevils lost by 16 runs. You wondered how close they would have gotten if their two most in-form batsmen had been able to spend more time at the crease. You wondered how many more matches they might have won had they spent more time at the crease more often.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Himanshu on May 16, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    If only the Delhi Daredevils did not have a Right-To-Match Card left when Kedar Jadhav was being sold at the auction and he instead went to Sunrisers Hyderabad. His talents would've been utilised much better by them than they have been by the Delhi Daredevils. Hope they transfer him to SRH next year because they've got enough domestic batsmen in their squad anyway and they don't seem to respect Jadhav's talent enough to want to send him in above the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Dinesh Karthik, Manoj Tiwary and Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

  • vas on May 16, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    After major reshuffle in this year's auction all the teams looked equally strong on paper. But unlike last year where we had so many last over/last ball thrillers, this years showing was disappointing. There were so many one-sided matches. May be new players need time to gell. MI and DD were particularly looked jaded. MI still have chance if they win all their remaining matches. DD is out this year.

    RR always spring surprises with their constant changing of players and their batting order. It works for them. On the other hand CSK try to stick to the same XI barring one or two to suit the pitch conditions.

  • Dummy4 on May 16, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Look at the KKR team. Shakib is the good choice right now. But they drop him regularly from the team without any cause. They use him only for bowling. But Shakib is genuine batsman and stroke player. He should be on number 3.

  • Meander on May 16, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    Well, the question is not who should play ahead of whom... But, the answer is you need players who can score, score quickly & most importantly, score as per the demand of the situation. Delhi were already in a mess last year. And, it seems that they've started to enjoy the 'bottom' position of the points table this year. Nevertheless, good luck Delhi Daredevils for the remaining season.

  • Reg on May 16, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    Playing T20 you are already in the end game in the first over. Specialist openers might have a place, but after that I think it should be next best next in all the way down the order. But as the writer points out, it just doesn't happen like that, however obvious the strategy appears to be. And just like him, i have no explanation to offer . . .

  • Rahul on May 16, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    I agree with this writer but I am baffled by why the decision to promote Saha is getting flak. Ignoring his brilliant last innings against SRH, he has only come at 1 down when the first wicket has fallen early. It is a good strategy because it times Maxwell's entry when the spinner are operating and that is when he is at his destructive best. I think KXIP are the only team making rational batting order decisions and therefore leading the table (the exception being holding Vohra back for so long). CSK need to give some of their middle order practice but other than that their top order has prospered so they are second. A clear divide between rational team management and stupid team management on the points table.

  • Dummy4 on May 16, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    This has become a pet peeve for a lot of people - criticizing the batting order! It is easy to say from outside the best batters have to bat 20 overs, the question is how do you accomodate the weaker players who do not need the pressure of wickets down when they come in to bat, the stronger players can handle that pressure, the weaker guys need time, this besides facing the new ball and early conditions which the middle order is saved from and maybe these guys are better down (Duminy does not open for South Africa, for god's sake KP and Karthik are not mugs who are batting up, they need time as they are out of form and it is worse coming in with 2 down, from a team perspective they need Duminy to shoulder the burden but if he was a regular opener than I disagree). Keep in mind the strategies are devised by people who have played the game at the highest level and not armchair critics like most are, myself included but I try to be open minded about it, give them the benefit of doub

  • Ashok on May 15, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    The Captains & Team administrators responsible for XI selection & the batting order have blundered most irrationally in IPL 7. Some of the Captains who made extremely poor decisions include KP, Dhawan & Gambhir. KP's XI selection has always been questionable at best but worse was his treatment of Duminy - both in bowling & batting Oder (B.O.) in his first 2 captaincy stint. Jadhav is other individual who suffered in B.O. Dhawan's bowling changes & specially untimely use of his leg spinners + Pathan defied logic. His B.O. was also illogical in sending N.Ojha so late. Using Mishra & Karn Sharma vs. Maxwell or any sloggers is wrong when the seamer Pthan is not used. Gambhir's tactics of using Vinay to bowl bouncers at his pace at Maxwell was like waving red flag in front of a raging bull. Not using Uthappa at the opening spot was crazy. Since he has been put on top, Uthappa scored heavily - responsible for KKR moving up from elimination to Playoff spot. Good Captaincy is crucial in T20.

  • niaz on May 15, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Also if you look at great teams they are having firepower at the top and almost every position in 1-7. If you have to plays Kallis or Sukla because of their bowling.. bat them at 7 or 8.. they might get out.. at that point you do not care.. in that case a Vinay, a Johnson, a Harbhajan or Chawla might hit some shots.. may be some edges... Their average would tank.. thats ok... as far as team goes.. its better to have top bats to have high number of balls played and high average than low SR batmen loosing their averages.

  • Sriram on May 15, 2014, 13:28 GMT

    Open with Jhadav and get in Taylor in place of Dekock. Dumminy ahead of DK makes sense. It just does not make sense to play Quinton when DK in the XI and just coz left right opening pair is no justification play Quinton.

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