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IPL 2024

Explained: Why Sam Curran promoted himself to open the batting against Mumbai Indians

Sam Curran opened the batting for PBKS against Mumbai Indians
by Katya Witney 3 minute read

Sam Curran promoted himself up the order to open the batting for Punjab Kings in their chase against Mumbai Indians today (April 18) –  here’s why.

Only one designated opener in the XI

When Punjab Kings named their XI for their seventh match of IPL 2024 in Mullanpur, it only included one opener, Prabhsimran Singh, who normally bats at No.3 in the order.

PBKS started the tournament with an opening partnership of regular captain, Shikhar Dhawan, and Jonny Bairstow. That partnership was unchanged for the first five matches of their campaign, before Dhawan was left out with an injury in their most recent previous match. On that occasion, Atharva Taide stepped in alongside Bairstow. He scored 15 runs off 12 balls in a loss to Rajasthan Royals. Curran was also named stand-in captain for that fixture, which Rajasthan won by three wickets with one ball remaining.

However, Dhawan was again left out with injury for today’s match against Mumbai Indians. Bairstow, who has scored 96 runs across six innings in the tournament so far, with three single digit scores and a best of 42, was dropped for the fixture. That left PBKS with two opening spots to fill, given Taide was also left out, most likely to accommodate the in-form Ashutosh Sharma in the XI.

Curran – the pinch hitter

PBKS opted to promote Prabhsimran up the order to take one of the spots, but had more of a dilemma with the other. Rilee Rossouw would potentially have been their most obvious choice, in the 57 T20s he has played since last year, he hasn’t opened even once. Their only other real option, aside from Liam Livingstone who is mostly a middle-order and innings-finishing specialist in T20s, was Curran.

Curran, who was once again standing in as captain, has played the role of a pinch hitter on occasions. He averages 20.48 with the bat in T20s with a high score 72* and a strike-rate of 132.45. With 16 50s in 181 innings and having opened the batting on five previous occasions, he has the potential to tee-off and give quick starts, something CSK tried with him a few years back. As an opener, he averaged 15.80 and struck at 127.41 before today.

As it was, Curran didn’t come off, scoring six off seven balls as Punjab collapsed to 14-4 in their chase of 193.

However, with few options to balance the XI in the way they would like, Bairstow’s form becoming an issue and Dhawan injured, promoting Curran made sense, while it’s not realistically a long term solution to their problems at the top of the order.

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