Rajasthan Royals ended their 2-match losing streak when they defeated Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with Jos Buttler delivering for the former champions in the middle-order. Buttler hit an unbeaten 70 after a top-order collapse to help them seal 2 crucial points and remain in the play-offs race at IPL 2020.
Despite Jos Buttler’s performance on the other night against CSK in the middle-order, former India spinner Pragyan Ojha believes the England wicketkeeper-batsman should return to the top order and the Royals must think of getting Ben Stokes back in the middle-order.
While Jos Buttler delivered as an opener for the Royals in IPL 2018, hitting more than 500 runs at an average of 50, Steve Smith’s side have gone in with Ben Stokes at the top. The England all-rounder hasn’t managed to set the stage on fire as an opener, managing just 80 runs in 4 matches.
Ojha, speaking to Sports Today on Thursday, said Stokes should be allowed to perform at No. 5 or No. 6 wherein he has achieved a lot of success in the past for England.
“We all are asking the question (Why is Ben Stokes not playing in the middle-order?). Every player, they have played a particular brand of cricket and are comfortable in a particular position. So you have to give them that first. If that doesn’t work, then you change your plan,” Ojha said.
“If you look at all the successful captains, they would give the bowler the freedom to set their plans and execute them and if that doesn’t work, then they pitch step in and give their ideas.
“So when you know Ben Stokes has delivered at No.5 and No. 6, then why not have him there? You have a great opener with you. It’s not like you don’t have an opener. You have a brilliant opener who is getting you runs, Jos Buttler. Why change your positions?”
Rajasthan Royals will be hoping to get another 2 points in Thursday’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad as a win would take them to the 4th spot on the IPL 2020 points table.
Holder should bat higher up the order if SRH play him: Ojha
On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad are nearing a must-win situation, after having won only 3 matches out of their first 9. SRH also have concerns over Kane Williamson’s injury as the New Zealand captain was forced to open the innings in their defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders over the weekend after picking up a hamstring injury.
Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, is likely to replace Kane Williamson if the Black Caps star fails to recover in time for Thursday’s big-ticket match.
Ojha said Sunrisers Hyderabad should give Holder an opportunity to bat higher up in the middle-order as he has found success at the spot in the Caribbean Premier League, earlier this year. Holder, who generally bats at the lower-middle order for West Indies, pushed himself up to No.4 and No.5 and played some eye-catching knocks. Holder had managed 192 runs in 10 matches, striking at over 140 in the CPL.
“Definitely, Holder, he has got a good season. This guy plays CPL and gets those consistent runs and then bowls well and comes to play the IPL. You have to give him that chance because your middle order is not firing. Maybe after Manish Pandey, you can try Holder. He was playing well in that position. Do those small things right because even small mistakes can cost you the tournament,” Ojha said.