The start given by openers is vital, be it setting up a total or chasing a target. In this IPL though the paths they have taken to get those runs have varied. Jos Buttler and David Warner have invariably teed off from the word go, while KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have played the role of an anchor.
The top six run-getters in this IPL are openers. They have been brilliant considering that the pitches at all four venues have been helpful to bowlers in the initial exchanges.
Topping the chart is Buttler with 618 runs from 11 matches, at a strike rate of 152.21, second highest among the top-10 run-getters this season. His has scored 72.17 % of his runs in boundaries with 55 fours and 37 sixes. All three centuries of his centuries have resulted in victories for Rajasthan Royals.
The England batter has been particularly brutal in the powerplay overs. According to espncricinfo.com stats, he tops the chart for most runs scored in those first six overs, his 292 runs coming at a strike rate of 139.71.
The second highest run-getter is Lucknow Super Giants skipper Rahul, who had scored 451 runs until Tuesday’s match. He pales in comparison with Buttler when it comes to the powerplay, where he has scored just 116 runs at a strike rate of 108.41. His overall boundary percentage is 60.34.
There are suggestions Rahul should pick up his scoring in the powerplay if he has play for India in the T20 World Cup in October-November. The reason experts feel Rahul should step it up is because Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli also like to get their eye in before opening up their shoulders.
His steady approach off the blocks though hasn’t hurt LSG as their bowlers have closed out matches convincingly. All his 50-plus knocks, including two centuries, have resulted in victories for LSG. What he lacks in the powerplay, he makes up in the last five overs if he bats deep into the innings. He has scored his runs at a strike rate of 190.74 during that period. As a result, his overall strike rate jumps to 145.01, which is the third best among the top-10 scorers this season.
All the heavy hitting for LSG in the powerplay is done by Quinton de Kock, who with 204 runs (of his overall 344) is the third highest scorer in powerplay. He sits sixth in terms of aggregates. The top four in the standings – LSG, Gujarat Titans, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore – haven’t tinkered much with the top-order and it has resulted in a steady flow of runs for others to build on.
Rahul and De Kock have been constant at the top for LSG and have raised four 40-plus stands in 11 innings. After trying out Matthew Wade in the initial matches, GT have settled for Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha and they are coming into their own. Against Mumbai Indians, they raised a 106-run partnership but the rest couldn’t close out the match.
RR have picked either Yashasvi Jaiswal and Devdutt Padikkal to partner Buttler. RCB have moved Virat Kohli to open with skipper Faf Du Plessis after trying out Anuj Rawat. Their best opening stand of 62 came a couple of matches ago against Chennai Super Kings.
Kohli has struggled while Du Plessis, as the third highest run-scorer with 389 runs, has led RCB’s chase for a playoffs berth.
Delhi Capitals’ David Warner and Prithvi Shaw had knocked the wind out of the opposition but inconsistency in the middle-order meant the team hasn’t been able to convert those starts into victories. Both feature in the top-five list for most runs scored in the powerplay. Warner is second with 209 runs and Shaw fifth with 193 runs. Warner has the highest powerplay strike rate – 163.28.
DC were left exposed in their last match against CSK which Shaw missed after being hospitalised with fever. Warner got out early and the middle-order couldn’t take them over the line.
Among the top-five run getters in IPL, Punjab Kings’ Shikhar Dhawan, who is fourth with 381 runs, has the lowest strike rate of 122.11 and a boundary percentage of 56.17. Dhawan has had to adopt a cautious approach as PBKS have lost early wickets often, and have had just two 50-plus opening partnerships in 11 matches.
Like PBKS, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians are the other teams who have struggled to get going at the top. MI, the bottom-placed team, have still showed faith in Ishan Kishan and skipper Rohit Sharma while KKR have used five opening combinations – the most this edition – that has added to their struggles. On Monday, they reunited original openers Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer against MI and they raised a 60-run stand – their first 50-plus partnership this season.
CSK have the most-improved opening combination in the last three matches with Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad stitching three consecutive 50-plus stands – two of them 100 plus.