A surprised former India cricketer Ajay Jadeja heaped praise on Punjab Kings captain Mayank Agarwal for demoting himself to accommodate Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order in an IPL 2022 match against the Gujarat Titans. Mayank, who has been an opener from junior cricket, did not even bat on Tuesday as his side PBKS chased down the 144-run target with 8 wickets and four overs to spare. Instead of Mayank Agarwal, it was England’s Bairstow who walked out to open the batting with Shikhar Dhawan. Even though Bairstow was dismissed early by Mohammed Shami, Jadeja believed this batting-order is much better and can strike fear in the opposition.
Hailing Agarwal for his selfless move, Jadeja said he did not expect that the right-hander would ‘take the axe upon himself’ and bat down the order.
“I was not expecting Mayank to take the axe upon himself and demote himself down the order. That is a big decision to take for a captain. If you see what is best for him, it is the opening slot but if you look at the team resources, this batting lineup, has people just coming in one after the other. You ask a bowler if you are up against a team which has Bairstow at the top then Rajapaksa walks in and then Livingstone then they will have no option to get all of them out to breathe a sigh of relief,” Jadeja told Cricbuzz.
Mayank has not been in the best form in IPL 2022. With Dhawan scoring consistently at the top, Mayank decided to drop down. What it meant was Rajapaksa, Livingstone and Bairstow all got promotions.
Former India cricketer Pragyan Ojha said opening with Bairstow and Dhawan is the right way forward but Mayank should come in at number 3.
“Mayank Agarwal can be used in a versatile manner. I think he will come at No. 3 and the template will remain the same, but the roles will change just slightly. If Punjab keeps winning, then it will seem that there are no teams better than them.”
“I believe that in the shortest format, if you open with Bairstow, he will give you starts and it fits well with the brand of cricket that Punjab are playing. So, it was a good move. Mayank knew that he was not getting the runs, so he gave himself a break, it was a mature thing to do. If you keep playing, you get stuck mentally after a point of time. I think he should come in at No.3 and Bairstow should get more chances at the top. If he plays well there, Punjab will not turn back,” he added.