World Cup 2019: Why Hardik Pandya should bat up the order more often
The primary reason behind this was the masterstroke of sending Hardik Pandya up the order. After all, not every player can score nearly 50 runs at a strike rate of over 175.
When Pandya came out to bat, India were at 220 for 2 in 36 overs. The all-rounder took a few balls initially to get used to the pitch. But once he got his eye in, he unleashed a brutal assault that fetched India 20-30 runs more than they ordinarily would have.
The thing about Pandya is that he is by far the fastest scorer in the side.
Sending him up the order makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, there really is no point in having him in the side as an all-rounder if he faces an average of 14 balls a match. This does not do justice to the sheer potential he has with the bat in hand.
Ideally, Pandya should be facing 20-30 balls an innings which, coupled with his strike rate, would ensure about 50 runs in quick time. And those 50 runs will make a huge difference to the final total.
What is especially noteworthy is that Pandya misses very few balls, especially in England. In fact, the innings with the lowest false shot percentage played by an Indian out of the top 3 in the last four years is Pandya's 76 in the Champions Trophy final. That innings had a false shot percentage of just 4%, which demonstrates his authority on English grounds.
Furthermore, Pandya is in exceptional form at the moment and won't impact the scoring rate negatively even if he does manage to get out early.
However, the one thing lacking in Pandya's game is his ability to build an innings. In order to negate this threat, he should only be sent up the order if there is a batsman at the crease who is set or who can anchor the innings.
"Hardik said to me in the middle that if I'm there at one end, it gives him the freedom to strike from ball one, and he wanted to strike at 200," said Virat Kohli after the match against Australia. That clearly shows Pandya is a batsman who thrives when there is someone at the other end who won't lose his wicket easily.
But if India are in a strong position, it would be useful to send him up the order to increase the run rate and take the total close to 350. Of course, there is no reason to remove him from the role of the designated finisher if his services are not required in the middle overs.
The bottom line is that there are plenty of reasons to support the idea of Pandya batting higher up the order when India are in a strong position. When the team needs someone to just smack the ball, Pandya is the go-to man.
Also see - IND vs PAK head to head stats