Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CSK Opening Batsmen: Position Analysis

Chennai Super Kings have 3 specialists (probably 4, if Abhinav Mukund is signed) for the 2 opening batsmen positions. Opening batsmen are crucial to launch a T20 innings aggressively, often against the best opposition bowlers. Their job is to build a quick 60 to 70 run partnership in the first 7 - 8 overs. Critical success factors include, quick hand eye coordination, range of strokes all around the wicket – especially over the fielders (given the first power play) and good hand and shoulder strength to find the ropes. Here is an analysis of the options CSK has:

  1. Murali Vijay: An aggressive opening batsman, Vijay is known for his big hundreds and booming sixes. He bloomed in IPL 3, where he was a Top 10 batsman and was the highest scorer in Champions League 2010. He has an average in the upper 40s and a 100+ strike rate. His recent bad patch in South Africa is definitely a concern but coming back to his favorite Indian grounds should do his confidence a world of good. He is not in the World Cup squad, with India loaded with 3 fantastic openers (Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gambhir). Vijay is also a good fielder especially in taking catches in the deep. Expect him to be a Top 10 batsman once again in IPL 4
  2. Abhinav Mukund: There have been conflicting reports of him being signed and not signed in various news sources. Abhinav is a solid opener with an average of 50+ in domestic circuit. He was not in the scheme of things in the previous IPLs as Murali Vijay and Mathew Hayden filled the opening slots. He will be the first choice to partner with Murali Vijay, given the greater need for Foreigners in Middle Order, Fast Bowling and All Rounder positions. Expect him to be sturdy and score at an average of 30 – 40 runs at a 90+ strike rate
  3. Srikkanth Aniruddha: Aniruddha is a specialist opener who was fitted into a middle order slot in IPL 3. He is a decent opener who can fill in if Abhinav is not signed. Expect him to score 20 to 30 runs on average, per game at 90+ strike rate
  4. Mike Hussey: Mike is a first down batsman who can also fit in the opener slot, if required. Mr. Cricket, as he is called, is a purist who can build solid partnerships in the top order at a healthy strike rate. He is down with a hamstring injury and is not in the Australia World Cup squad. Given the weakness in the middle order, he may be more needed as a first down batsman

Compared to IPL 3, CSK has weakened in the opener positions. Even though Mathew Hayden was not highly successful he brought a dominating aura that put opposition teams on the back foot from the first over. He also provided leadership and guided his batting partners through the innings. His loss will certainly hurt CSK

In IPL 4, Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund are the first choice for Opening with Mike Hussey moved to first down to augment the middle order. Srikkanth Aniruddha is the first alternate for Abhinav Mukund, if he is not signed or if any of the openers are injured

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