Let’s take a look at two of the most exciting players of this generation – Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer. In the history of the IPL, there haven’t been many middle-order batting-pairs who have tasted success in two or more seasons. Pant and Hetmyer can form a destructive batting pair and break this set norm in the league’s history.
Delhi Capitals have been investing in the young players since 2018, and they did the same in the auction for the IPL 2020 by acquiring Hetmyer. In an intense bidding war against Rajasthan Royals, DC recruited the West Indies youngster for a huge sum of INR 7.75 crores. Delhi bought Hetmyer to strengthen their batting unit. Apart from Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant, none of their batsmen had 25+ average and 120+ strike rate in IPL 2019.
Where do they stand in their T20 career?
Rishabh Pant has been very good in his non-international T20 career.
Pant has been the best Indian batsman and the best middle-order batsman in the last three seasons of the IPL. Since IPL 2017, among non-top-order batsmen who have batted at least in 10 innings:
- Pant is the highest run-scorer (1298);
- He has the third-best BARSA (batting average + strike rate) – 203.55, after Andre Russell and AB de Villiers;
- Pant has the highest number of 50+ scores (9), 30+ scores (19) and is the only centurion along with Ben Stokes.
- He has the best runs per innings ratio (34.16).
Among non-top-order batsmen who have batted in at least in 20 innings in this duration:
- Pant has the second-best balls per boundary ratio (4.27) after Andre Russell.
- He has the best balls-per-four ratio (7.14).
- Pant has the third-best balls-per-six ratio (10.61) after Russell and Hardik Pandya.
- He has the second-highest percentage of runs scored through boundaries (68.1%) after Russell.
- Pant has the second-best boundary ball percentage (23.44%) after Russell.
Whilst Pant is a proven performer in the greatest T20 league, Hetmyer doesn’t boast of good numbers in his T20 career.
Shimron Hetmyer has played 13 T20 series in his career, including international cricket. And, he has an average of 32 or more with a strike rate of more than 135 in just three series. You might wonder why he is rated highly then? Because of his potential which he has shown on numerous instances. He had a great time in CPL 2018. Playing for Amazon Guyana Warriors in 12 matches, he amassed 440 runs with an average of exactly 40 and an excellent strike rate of about 150. In the tourney, he scored a century, a couple of fifties and three thirties.
Whilst Rishabh Pant has tasted success in the IPL and Hetmyer in CPL 2018, they have been below-par in the shortest format for their respective national sides. However, we should expect them to better their numbers with time given the right chances.
Similarities in brutality:
Pant and Hetmyer are pretty similar with their respective gameplay
Shimron Hetmyer and Rishabh Pant are both attacking batsmen and prefer to score runs quickly. Pant in T20Is, and Hetmyer in T20s including the T20Is don’t have great strike rates, but that is very likely to change in the near future.
Hetmyer has scored five centuries and four fifties in his ODI career and all the innings have ended with a strike rate of 120 or more, except for the half-century against Bangladesh. In CPL 2018, the southpaw scored 30 or more in six out of 12 innings, and four of them had come at a strike rate of 150 or more. In his Test cricket career, the Guyana-born lad has scored five half-centuries so far. Two of them came at a strike rate 100 or more, and the rest at a strike rate of 74 or more.
In his IPL career, Rishabh Pant has played 26 innings in which he has crossed the 30-run mark, and 25 of them had come at a strike rate of 135 or more. The graphic given below elaborates more:
In the longest format, he has crossed the 30-run mark in seven innings and his strike rate has been more than 68 or more on six instances.
Shimron Hetmyer and Rishabh Pant have the intent to accumulate runs at a higher scoring rate and have the requisite skills as well. Thus, their attacking nature is the first similarity in both of them.
Gameplay against spin bowling:
Hetmyer and Pant are both very good players of spin bowling. Neither plays against spin bowling in a traditional manner. Both are powerful players and power-hitters of spin bowling. Against spin bowling, Pant generally plays on the front-foot mainly willing to utilise his power. On the other hand, Hetmyer plays both on the front-foot and the back-foot.
The leg-spin threat is on the rise in the shortest format of the game. The stock leg-spin delivery angles inwards for a left-handed batsman, thus, they generally have an advantage against such kind of bowling.
However, the batsmen generally get under trouble when the ball turns away from them, and Pant & Hetmyer are no different. So, googlies are the way to go against them for the leg-spinners. And, off-spinners and left-arm wrist spinners who generally turn the ball away from the left-handed batsmen can rely on their stock deliveries against them.
One thing, which should be a major concern for Rishabh Pant are his numbers against left-arm orthodox bowlers. As far as his ability is concerned, he should dominate such kind of bowling. However, the numbers tell a different story. When the ball is bowled a bit wide, Pant tries to drag the ball and launch it in the stands on the leg side, a questionable shot considering the chances of erring.
Rishabh Pant against spinners in the IPL (minimum 20 balls faced):
Among all the spinners who have bowled at least 20 balls against Pant in the IPL, only Kuldeep Yadav has good numbers against Pant.
Hetmyer struggles against off-spinners or when the ball turns away from him, to be precise, as mentioned earlier as well. Besides having slog sweep in his armoury, Hetmyer, using his feet well, can come down the crease and go for the big shots.
His ODI numbers are great against India, in India and Asia as well. Against India in ODIs, he has played 12 matches – the highest for him against any opposition and has amassed 500 runs. Hetmyer has dominated against India in ODI cricket – a team which has two great wrist spinners. This tells a thing or two about Hetmyer’s skills against spin bowling.
Other similarities in their techniques:
We have largely talked about their strengths, and we take a look at some of their weaknesses.
Both are not very great players of short-pitched deliveries. They are a bit late in judging the length of delivery, particularly when the bowler breaches the 140-kph mark. Their weight is generally on the front foot and they don’t transfer it on the back foot quickly.
Their other weakness is displayed against the moving ball in the longest format. Both don’t play close to their bodies, rather throw hands away from the body. When a pacer bowls a delivery away from the body, and the ball moves, both haven’t tasted enough success since they go to chase the red-cherry.
Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer like to score on the legside more as compared to that on the off-side. Pant plays the flick shots and forehand pull shots which are directed to leg-side and straight. The dashing batsman scores well in the cover region but not as much as he scores in the cow corner. He doesn’t play a lot of cut shots in the square region and goes for funky scoops when he gets set.
Will they form a great batting pair, and how will they help Delhi Capitals?
Generally, two batsmen would form a great batting pair if they don’t have a specific weakness as a duo. However, if both batsmen have the same kind of strengths and weaknesses, they might find themselves in trouble at times.
Let’s us suppose if batsman ‘A’ struggles against leg-spin and can whack express pace, and the batsman ‘B’ is a good player of spin and struggles against the deliveries coming inwards the body with express pace. Now, both can complement each other and build a good partnership.
And, in the case of Pant and Hetmyer, this theory doesn’t give a green signal. However, they could still form a great batting pair because of a few reasons. Both are similar kind of players; thus, they can bond with each other well. It looks like Hetmyer will bat at number four and Pant at number five. It would be ideal if they are moved a slot above, however, it’s unlikely since Shreyas Iyer will bat at number three.
Both can wreak havoc against spinners and medium-pacers in the middle-overs, and break the game for their team. Both are attacking batsmen and you can expect fireworks from both sides when the duo is at the crease. However, if required, one of the two can lead the charge in case the other is struggling.
Delhi Capitals failed to utilise the home advantage last year. The Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium had slow pitches which favoured spinners, in the last few seasons. Hetmyer, Pant and Iyer are very good players of spin, and that would help DC now. Even if the opposing team has all kind of spin-bowling options, Iyer-Hetmyer-Pant as a trio can encounter that.
However, a batting line-up just having spin bashers won’t deliver the goods in all the circumstances.
And, this isn’t true for DC, anyway. Pant is a good player of pace bowling as well. In his IPL career, Pant averages 33.6 against pace and scores at a run rate of more than 10 against pacers (Stat Credit: CricViz). The lad had a good time in the test series in Australia – a nation which dishes out fast and bouncy pitches. The 22-year-old has a very good record against Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jofra Archer and even whacked Bumrah in Mumbai last year. On the other hand, Hetmyer can easily smash medium-pacers. And, his work against true fast-bowling is in progress.
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Rishabh Pant is a better player than Shimron Hetmyer as far as skillset is concerned. However, both aren’t finished products yet – there is room for improvement in several departments. If the thirteenth edition of the IPL takes place, both will play for the same IPL team. Before the IPL 2021, a mega-auction will take place, and DC will retain Hetmyer if he performs well in the IPL 2020 (if it happens). However, if the IPL 2020 is cancelled due to the current pandemic, there are reports that mega-auction might not happen for IPL 2021, and the teams would have the choice to retain the players which they want to.
Two young attacking players, Shimron Hetmyer and Rishabh Pant have the potential to represent their national team in all three formats, and featured in the same U-19 World Cup (2016), have the opportunity to play for the same team in the greatest T20 league, and cricket fans would love to see them doing well.