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The case for Hetmyer to bat higher up in Rajasthan Royals' line-up

Tom Moody and Sanjay Manjrekar feel Hetmyer is much more than just a finisher

Are Rajasthan Royals missing a trick by batting Shimron Hetmyer down the order? In their five-run loss to Punjab Kings on Wednesday, they sent Hetmyer out at No. 7 when they needed a stiff 77 from 36 in a chase of 198. Hetmyer took them close with his 36 off 18, bringing the equation down to 16 off the last over, but Tom Moody and Sanjay Manjrekar strongly feel Hetmyer should bat much higher up because he is a more "complete" batter, not just a finisher.
"I think he's a far better player than that," Moody said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time:Out show after the game. "He is not a [Kieron] Pollard or Andre Russell type player that's geared for the last six overs. Both these players are obviously IPL icons so they've got specific skillsets. Hetmyer can potentially do that but he is more of a complete batsman than that. We've seen him batting at No. 3 in 50-over cricket for West Indies, he doesn't play a lot of cricket for them now but when he first started as a young player, [he was] scoring international hundreds for the West Indies…he's a top-order player.
"Players of that calibre need to be out there following in the wake of Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler."
In Royals' first game this season, batting first against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they had sent out Hetmyer at No. 6, but after their top order of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Buttler and Samson had blasted quickfire fifties, Hetmyer wasn't required as much as he was in Wednesday's chase.
Hetmyer joined Royals only last year, but in his IPL career since 2019, he has batted the most number of times at No. 5, averaging 28 and striking at 152.03 from 20 innings. At No. 6, he strikes at 162.43 with an average of 36.75 from 14 innings. At No. 4, though, his average shoots up to 53.66 with a strike rate of 153.33 (albeit from a smaller sample size of six innings).
Manjrekar said one of the reasons to push Hetmyer down the order could have been be to keep the right-left combination going, when Buttler and Samson got out and left-hand batter Devdutt Padikkal was at the other end.
"This left-hand right-hand combination just makes sure that Hetmyer has to go down the order," Manjrekar said. "[But] he should move up the order, and this has happened for far too long. Maybe they think he's somebody who can go in and play in the last three-four overs and maybe enjoys that role."
Royals were also forced to change their opening pair on Wednesday because Buttler had bruised his finger while taking a catch and wasn't available to open while he was getting treated. They opened with R Ashwin and Jaiswal, with Buttler at No. 3, followed by Samson, Padikkal, Parag and Hetmyer at No. 7. Manjrekar said that in an ideal scenario, they should be batting Padikkal at No. 3, Samson at No. 4 and Hetmyer at No. 5.
"The ideal batting order for Rajasthan Royals would be if they want to keep backing Devdutt Padikkal, then he can't be batting at No. 4 because it's tough for someone who opens the innings generally to find form batting at No. 4," Manjrekar explained. "Sanju Samson could make that sacrifice, bat at No. 4, which he's done in the past and he's a good enough player to do that. Then you stick with Buttler, Jaiswal, Padikkal at No. 3, Sanju Samson at four and have Hetmyer at five, and that order shouldn't change, come what may.
"This left-right combination, the match-ups, you can do when you have evenly-matched players batting at Nos. 5, 6 and 7. There's a huge gap between Hetmyer and the others that came before him."