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Why Manoj Tiwary should bat higher

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Manoj_Tiwary_India_IPL_CricketOn one hand, the wisdom has always been to send your best batsmen and in-form players higher up in the batting order, so that they can capitalize the most as soon as possible and put you in a good position. Flying in the face of this wisdom, we have Rising Pune Supergiant, who are using one of their most in-form players deep down the order.

They have moved MS Dhoni up to 4 as he can inflict damage. Dhoni was earlier batting at 5 and suddenly Pune’s thinktank took a cue from the fans and critics and promoted Dhoni to 4. Barring one magical innings, the former India captain hasn’t shown much promise and has mostly been seen consuming balls without much result. One of the major reasons for this has been the fewer number of overs left to get his eye in before exploding.

Pune’s opening pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi has been fairly consistent and batted long a fair bit off late. Steve Smith who follows one-drop hasn’t really been dismissed early, to allow Dhoni a good amount of time to bat longer. The one day that it happened, Dhoni did the damage.

So why not be flexible and be open to the idea of batting Manoj Tiwary higher? The Bengal captain has been in good form coming into the IPL. What’s more, he has been incredible with the bat in the IPL. In the 6 matches he has played so far, he has scored 137 runs at an average of over 45 and a strike rate in excess of 167. In comparison, Ajinkya Rahane who opens the batting for RPS has scored 159 runs in more innings and has a strike rate of a little over 127. 

Steve Smith has done better, thanks to his 84 in the first game against Mumbai Indians, and averages close to 45 and a strike rate touching 135. Dhoni on the other hand, has managed just 129 runs and his strike rate is the worst among the lot, standing at 112.17. Ben Stokes’ average and strike rate too are nowhere close to Tiwary’s numbers. The IPL debutant averages just marginally above 18 with a strike rate of 136.55 to go with it.

While Dhoni and Stokes are bigger names, Tiwary’s form (and the way he is timing the ball) means that he can be their floater, who should be used higher up the order. His batting number should be decided by the match situation that shall help the Smith-led side consolidate further and put Pune in a much better position.

Pune’s treatment of Tiwary hasn’t been fair by any stretch of the imagination. In the 1st game where he got to bat, against Kings XI Punjab, Tiwary scored 40 off 23 balls. Considering Dhoni managed 5 off 11 and Smith 26 off 27, one can get the essence of how special an innings it was and what talent the Indian batsman boasts.

Tiwary was dropped in the next game to accommodate a couple of other changes in the side. The result: Pune was embarrassed by the Delhi Daredevils and none of their batsmen showed any sort of resilience.

Manoj Tiwary didn’t let it show and smacked 37 against Gujarat Lions. In the next game, though his performance was overshadowed by a few others, his 27 off 11 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore was a match winning performance in the context of the game. 

Despite such brilliant efforts, Tiwary continued to bat down at number 6. Even in the game that Dhoni won in the end, Tiwary’s innings was crucial, as he scored 17 off just 8 to take away some of the pressure from Dhoni.

Moving onto Pune’s latest game and their win, the winning margin was as small as it can get. Yet again, it was Tiwary’s innings at the end that made a world of difference. No credit to be taken away from either Stokes or Unadkat, Tiwary’s 22 off 13 was as important if not more.

Putting the entire situation in perspective, Tiwary has provided a solid case for batting higher up the order, considering the Bengal batter has given enough evidence of what he could do if he gets to play a few more balls. This is definitely something Pune needs to look into.

 

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