IPL 2019: Should Russell bat higher up the order for KKR?
This IPL has seen another scintillating display of stroke-making. The 12th edition of the mega tournament has witnessed some clean power hitting, something which it has always provided. There are people like Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, who have reiterated their clean hitting capabilities. There is an MS Dhoni, who has shown glimpses of his vintage self. And then there is Andre Russell.
Russell, this season has been something out of the ordinary. He has injected a sense of fear into the fielding side every time he has come out to bat. He has redefined the terms 'possible' and 'impossible' with his power hitting. Huge boundaries looked tiny, and big targets seemed gettable. Perhaps, Russell should start batting higher up the order.
After smashing 65 off 25 balls, he came with only 4.2 overs to play in the next match. The Kolkata Knight Riders had lost their fifth consecutive match after a promising start to the season. Russell’s rise and KKR’s dip started pointing a few fingers at Russell’s batting position and the number of balls he is getting to face.
What if Russell bats higher up the order?
Imagine Russell comes in to bat at the ten over mark. He sees that there are 60 balls left and his brain starts to contradict his instincts. It starts telling him to build an innings. His instincts and his thought process no longer work in harmony. His approach to the innings starts to change.
An Andre Russell, who would otherwise go for the kill, starts to think like a Steve Smith. He is no longer the same person that was promoted. He is not himself anymore. Sometimes, such moves come off. But many a times, they don’t. People like Russell are at their destructive best when they have a clear mind.
Give them 5-7 overs, and they know what to do. Giving them more overs can change the way they think and hence change the way they approach their innings. While the option of trying him up the order remains lucrative, it might not be a successful one on a regular basis.
Russell batting up the order can also prove to be a tactical master-stroke at times. Maybe, chasing a mammoth target, Russell’s promotion can lead to the unthinkable, but he should certainly not be a permanent option at the top. He is at his best when he comes to provide the final flourish, and maybe it is best to leave him as he is and promote him only if the match situation desperately calls for it.
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