The two-time champions Mumbai Indians went down in a close encounter against Rising Pune Supergiant in the first game but made a terrific comeback and achieved back to back emphatic victories against Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
They have done well in both departments of the game yet they have a big concern as their skipper Rohit Sharma is struggling for form. He has managed scores of just 3, 2 and 4 in three innings respectively.
The Mumbai batsman has batted twice at number three and once at number four. His form is extremely crucial for his team and he is better off opening the innings rather than batting in the middle order.
Here are the 5 reasons why he should bat at the top of the order:
#1 Best batsman of the team
There is absolutely no doubt about the class that the 29-year-old possesses and is certainly the best batsman in the side by far. Mumbai has a decent batting line-up that consists of several power-hitters but none of them matches the mettle of Rohit.
He, being the most prolific run-getter for the franchise, needs to face as many deliveries as possible and that can happen only if he opens the innings.
From 2011 till date, he has played 109 matches for MI in which he has scored 2986 runs at an average of 33.93 and a strike rate of 131.13, which is astonishing in the shortest format of the game. He has a century and 22 fifties in his account and for a batsman with such a record needs to face the maximum number of deliveries in an innings.
#2 Gets more time to settle
In all the three games so far, openers Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler have provided decent starts and Rohit found a set platform when he walked in. However, he failed to build on to the momentum and got out early.
The right-hander’s natural game is to spend some time at the crease earlier on and then go after the bowling, which has not happened so far. Twice he came in while chasing a big total and succumbed to the scoreboard pressure.
Over the years, his best innings have taken place when he took his time to settle and once got his eye in, went absolutely berserk. There aren’t too many better batsman to watch once he gets going. By opening the innings, he will get the additional time to assess the conditions and get rid of the initial butterflies in the stomach.
#3 Less spin to face at the start
Rohit’s three dismissals in the season so far have all been against spinners which suggest that he is struggling against the turning ball at the start of the innings. Imran Tahir got him out bowled in the first match and then Sunil Narine and Rashid Khan trapped him in front of the wickets in two respective matches.
These are clear signs that he needs more time before facing up to the spinners. Generally, there will be fast bowlers bowling with the new ball and we have all seen his skills against the pace and bounce. He doesn’t have any issues against the short ball either and is surely one of the best pullers in world cricket currently.
There will be occasions where the opposition might begin with spin but the new ball won’t turn much which would allow Rohit to get back his fluency.
#4 Excellent record as an opener
The Mumbaikar had started knocking the doors of Indian cricket a decade ago after his wonderful performances in the domestic cricket. He had made his debut for India way back in June 2007. He impressed one and all with his classy strokes but lacked consistency that kept him in and out of the side for a few years that followed.
The big turnaround in his career took place since he started opening the innings. In the Champions Trophy 2013, he batted at the top along with Shikhar Dhawan and immediately the move paid rich dividends.
Since that day, he has scored 3153 runs in 67 matches at an average of 54 in ODIs and scored 8 centuries that included 2 double-centuries. He has firmly cemented his place for India for the opener’s slot and now needs to do the same for Mumbai Indians too.
#5 Jos Buttler would be better down the order
The English batsman has had scores of 38, 28 and 14 in three innings so far and has been dismissed after getting good starts. He should have gone on to make a big one on at least one of the occasions.
Such cameos from him would be better during the slog overs where he had batted for MI last year. Kieron Pollard is supposed to play that role down the order but he has been out of touch and so the Englishman could be a good prospect to fill in for him.
If Pollard doesn’t find his form soon, it would be better for the team to drop him and bring in the experienced Lendl Simmons to open the innings with Rohit by sending Buttler to bat at number 5 or 6.