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Match Analysis

Porel makes quiet impact in star-studded Capitals line-up

The Bengal batter has batted at six different positions in IPL 2024 and his latest innings at the top of the order highlighted his versatility

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
David Warner and Jake Fraser-McGurk at the top. Rishabh Pant in the middle. Tristan Stubbs after that. Delhi Capitals' batting line-up is filled with current and potential future superstars. Among them, Abishek Porel, a 21-year-old uncapped Indian, has been making a quiet impact.
When DC faced Rajasthan Royals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday, it was the same script once again. Fraser-McGurk gave the team a dazzling start and raced to his fifty off just 19 balls. In the death overs, Stubbs' finishing skills took them well beyond 200. But in between, it was Porel who kept DC going with a 36-ball 65.
The innings took Porel's tally for the season to 267, at an average of 33.37 and a strike rate of 157.98. The significance of those numbers, and Porel's versatility, becomes evident once you realise he has batted at six different positions - ranging from opening to No. 9 - across his ten innings.
Opening the innings against RR, Porel faced just five balls in the first four overs. But after R Ashwin dismissed Fraser-McGurk, he took over. And when Ashwin bowled one short, he rocked back and pulled him over deep midwicket for a six. In the next over, he hacked Sandeep Sharma in the same direction for a four to ensure DC did not lose momentum.
Before this match, Yuzvendra Chahal had dismissed Porel twice in eight balls for just five runs. On Tuesday, Porel did not let him settle. When Chahal came on to bowl, Porel jumped out of his crease straightaway and hit him over midwicket for a flat six. In all, Porel scored 13 off five balls against him.
He reached his fifty - his first in the IPL - in 28 balls. It came with a six off Avesh Khan, once again over midwicket. Overall, he scored 33 of his 65 runs in that region. By the time he got out, DC were well placed at 144 for 4 in the 13th over, with the platform set for Stubbs.
After the match, DC's assistant coach Pravin Amre lauded Porel's "special innings". "It is always gold when an Indian batter is scoring runs," he said. "As a coaching group, we were very happy with the way he was striking even in the nets. So it is good to see him doing well."
Porel joined DC in 2023, as a replacement for Pant. Till then, he had played only three T20s and had scored 20 runs off as many balls. He had similar returns in IPL 2023 as well: 33 runs off 31 balls from four innings.
Despite that, DC retained Porel for the 2024 season. With Pant back, it didn't seem likely he would start in the playing XI. When DC collapsed against Punjab Kings in their opening match, though, they brought him in as an Impact Player. Coming in at No. 9, Porel struck an unbeaten 32 off just ten balls to take the side to a competitive 174 for 9.
"That was awesome," Amre said of Porel's knock. "He was not sure till about the 18th over if he was going to play. But he came and he delivered." Though DC went on to lose, Porel's innings meant he played every match from there on.
In the latest Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Porel had found success as an opener. He was the second-highest run-getter for Bengal, scoring 239 in seven innings at an average of 39.83 and a strike rate of 152.22. But with DC having Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Prithvi Shaw and Fraser-McGurk to choose from, Porel had to start in the lower middle order.
Against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, he got a promotion to No. 3 and scored 41 off 31 balls. Three games later, batting at No. 4 against Sunrisers Hyderabad but walking in at the end of the second over, he smashed 42 off 22.
The team management took notice and decided to make him open the innings. Against RR, he even kept Shaw out of the XII. "Porel plays the new ball very well, and we wanted a left-right combination also, so we got him up the order," Amre said.
The win against RR lifted DC to fifth on the points table. Still, their playoffs chances remain thin. Even if they win their remaining two games and finish with 16 points, they may have to rely on other results. But their task could get slightly easier if Porel keeps performing like this.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo