- Not that Jos Butler hasn’t been scoring at the top. He’s scored a decent 82 runs in the 4 innings he’s played, at a strike rate of 143.5. The stats could have been better, had it not been for the two rough decisions he got in the first two games when he looked in his elements. Not that Parthiv Patel hasn’t delivered. In fact, Parthiv Patel is best used during the powerplays. He has this uncanny ability to find gaps at will and scores important boundaries for the Mumbai Indians when he gets going. Beyond the powerplay, Parthiv Patel doesn’t quite strike as brilliantly as he does in it. In a way, Mumbai Indians have a decent opening pair, where Butler and Parthiv compliment each other pretty well. In normal course, especially after three wins out of the first four games, you wouldn’t want to disturb the combination. However, it is the horrendous failures of their skipper Rohit Sharma, a batsman paramount for Mumbai’s plans for the season, that prompts us to ponder over the no inevitable question. Should Mumbai Indians open with Rohit Sharma?
For those joining in now, Rohit Sharma had been out for the better part of the last home season because of an injury and had set his eye on the IPL as his comeback vehicle, before the National Team gears up for a gruelling Champions Trophy in England in June, followed by a busy limited-overs season. Sharma, the extraordinarily talented right-handed batsman, has had a horrendous season so far. He has 9 runs off 4 games, at an average of 2.25. We would still have ignored his first three failures, where once in Pune he got a bad decision. However, his dismissal in the last game was alarming – he missed a straight-forward delivery by Samuel Badree. A straighter one that passed through the gates, between the bat and pad and disturbed Sharma’s woodwork.
The dismissal we just talked speaks more about the mental state Rohit Sharma is in than about anything else. He is a brilliant technician. His technique is unblemished, no doubts whatsoever about it. It’s just that he is low on confidence. The lack of international Cricket and then the three successive failures have taken a toll. He is one-hundred percent fit, at the moment, and in spite of the bad form he is in, he’s leading the side well. These are good signs and Sharma could just be an innings away before he starts hitting the ball well – in fact, even a couple of good shots could do his confidence a world of good. For that, Sharma needs to be in his zone, needs to stay strong mentally. And for that, instead of hovering between batting positions he hasn’t batted a lot in, he needs to get back to where he belongs – the opening slot.
Like we said, Parthiv is best used in the powerplay. He can get you off to a flyer with a flurry of boundaries, with his ability to find gaps, Butler, on the other hand, his a handy batsman in, we believe, any position, with his sound technique and hard-hitting abilities. He can be an exciting batsman in any position. Hence, even if Butler and Parthiv aren’t particularly doing anything wrong as openers, Butler could make way for Rohit Sharma who is in desperate need of some runs. Once Sharma hits a couple of shots off the middle, he’ll feel a lot better. With his ability to win games on his own, Sharma is an extremely important player for the Mumbai Indians, in the context of this tournament. We all know how destructive he can be once he gets going. Once Sharma starts opening, he’ll feel a lot better and a lot more confident about himself, and this will do wonders for Mumbai who, at the moment, are in a strong position, thanks to youngsters like Nitish Rana, Krunal Pandya and Hardik Pandya who along with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Jos Butler and Lasith Malinga have done a fantastic job for Mumbai.