IPL 2020

5 Best Pinch Hitters in IPL 2020

The 13th IPL is just around the corner, and it is set to be the most viewed edition of all time due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The first match is scheduled on 19th September as two IPL giants, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, will face off at Abu Dhabi. The tournament will end on 10th November, and a new champion will be crowned.

Cricket is a game of bat vs. ball, and although there is no shortage of quality bowlers, it is safe to say that every fan loves to watch a high scoring affair. While most of the run-scoring is done by the batsmen, certain bowlers have emerged as successful pinch hitters over the years. At times a quickfire 30 off 10 balls by a pinch hitter is more valuable than a half-century by a regular batsman.

Here I take a look at 5 such pinch hitters to look out for, ahead of the 2020 IPL season:

[Read here: Probable Playing Combinations for all 8 IPL teams]

5. Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer rose to fame while playing for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash. Rajasthan Royals splashed a whopping 7.2 crore to acquire his services a few years ago due to his heroics with both the bat and ball in the Big Bash, which gave him global recognition.

Many West Indians have taken the IPL by storm like Pollard, Bravo, Russell, Narine, and Gayle. Archer, who was born in Barbados, has enjoyed two fruitful seasons as far as bowling is concerned, but he is yet to perform with the willow in the IPL. Like the other Caribbean stars, he could prove to be a great all-rounder in the upcoming season.

As Rajasthan Royals’ lower middle order is void of any big names, the Steve Smith-led side could afford to send Archer higher up the order, which in turn will make the batting line up deeper. This could be a viable strategy when they are chasing a high total.

4. Shardul Thakur

This spot was a toss-up between Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar, but I decided to go for the Maharashtra-born medium pacer. MS Dhoni has been known to make unorthodox decisions in the past, and that is why I see him using Shardul or Deepak as pinch hitters if required. 

Chennai Super Kings used Harbhajan Singh at number 5 and Deepak Chahar at number 6 in a match against KXIP in IPL 2018 ahead of MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, and Ravindra Jadeja to target their lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Shardul’s recent heroics for India with the bat cannot be ignored.

Thakur smashed an 8-ball 22 against Sri Lanka in a T20I to help India go past 200 and played a handy knock of 20 from 15 balls against New Zealand in a match that ended up as a tie. In his school days, Shardul has hit 6 sixes in 6 balls in an over, which solidifies his ability as a handy batsman.

3. Keemo Paul

The Guyana-born bowler has excellent control over his bowling and offers a raw pace during the death overs. Apart from his bowling credentials, he can also contribute with the bat. Delhi Capitals have plenty of options when it comes to Indian players, but their overseas setup isn’t the strongest.

Keemo Paul could be used as a finisher as he holds the aces to clear the boundary rope. Like many West Indian players, Keemo is also equipped with the ability to hit huge sixes. It can be validated from his highest ODI score of 46, which came against India at the end of last year.

The 22-year old Guyanese cricketer can also rotate the strike cleverly while his ability to go after the spinners can put the opposition under the pump. Even in the CPL, he has exhibited his power game on multiple occasions. So now, there is no doubt that Paul can also be viewed as a game-changer with the bat in his hand.

2. Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan is well known for his wily leg-spin, which puts the batsmen into a big spot of bother. The Afghan prodigy has garnered all the right eyeballs owing to his mastery with the ball. He has taken 55 wickets in just 3 seasons for Sunrisers Hyderabad and is already their 2nd highest wicket-taker of all time.

He can hit boundaries, especially in slog overs. His quick-fire runs can change the momentum of the game. He has proven his competency with the bat in the Big Bash League and other franchise T20 leagues. Although he hasn’t scored many runs for SRH, he has a strike rate of 165.07 in IPL.

Sunrisers Hyderabad has one of the best top orders in the IPL, but their middle order and lower middle order is not up to the mark. They could use Rashid Khan’s explosive batting ability by sending him to slightly up the order to finish off games. On his day, he can win games for SRH with the bat.

1. Sunil Narine

When Sunil Narine came under the limelight in the IPL, he was known as a mystery spinner. After being used as a pinch hitter for a few seasons, he has also managed to carry the title of a “Mystery Batsman.” He surprised and impressed everybody as an opening batsman for KKR.

Along with Chris Lynn, Narine formed a solid partnership at the top of the order for the Knight Riders in 2017. His most prolific campaign with the bat came in 2018 as the KKR stalwart scored 357 runs with an impressive strike rate of 189.89.

It is evident that a pinch hitter isn’t going to deliver every time he is sent to bat, but if they manage to do a cameo performance with the bat, the job of the other batsmen becomes much easier. Narine is an IPL legend in all regards, and he is probably the best pinch hitter in IPL history.

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