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IPL 2020: RR vs MI Game Plan 1 – Should Jos Buttler open again?

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The 45th match of the IPL 2020 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, could all be about match-ups. We take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the 45th game of IPL 2020 – RR vs MI.

NOTE: Stats are updated till 23rd October (Match No. 41 of IPL 2020)

RR vs MI – Pros and cons of Jos Buttler at different batting positions

After a bad eight-wicket loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals have put themselves in a must-win situation. It won’t be an easy task at all as they have to face Mumbai Indians in this fixture.

Post that loss against SRH, there are ought to be changes from the Rajasthan Royals, at least with the batting order. Ever since Ben Stokes came into the playing line-up, he has played as an opener. The move was executed with the idea that it would be easier for Ben Stokes to start against the pacers with the field inside the ring as opposed to beginning the innings against spin with the field spread.

 

It has been five matches since then and the results haven’t been great. Stokes has only made 110 runs in the five matches but the bigger worry is the strike-rate. He has batted with a strike-rate of 106.79 which isn’t helping the team’s cause at all. So, what do Rajasthan do now?

They have two options. The first one would be to switch Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes’ positions. Buttler’s record as an opener in the IPL has been a revelation and it isn’t a secret at all. Although Buttler came up with a superb 70 off 48 balls against CSK, he has been scratchy in the other two innings while batting in the middle-order.

 

Buttler’s record against leg-spin isn’t also great. So, it wouldn’t be a wise idea for him to be probably starting his innings while Rahul Chahar is bowling. His overall middle-order record while playing for both Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals hasn’t been eye-catchy too. Given that Buttler is seen as one of Rajasthan’s match-winners, it will only make sense for Rajasthan to make the switch.

RR vs MIThe other option would be for Buttler to be back to opening the innings while Rajasthan could drop Stokes in favour of Tom Curran. Tom Curran’s economy rate in this IPL hasn’t been great but he has bowled some tough overs especially at Sharjah when the batters were making merry earlier in the tournament. Curran also showed his batting potential with 83 runs coming at a strike-rate of 133.87. It is unlikely that Rajasthan move away from Stokes quickly but this change wouldn’t be the worst one at all.

 

However, there are reasons for Rajasthan to resist the Buttler switch just for this game against Mumbai Indians. If Buttler is back to opening, he would have to be up against Jasprit Bumrah who has been in red-hot form recently. Ever since Bumrah started to take the new ball this season, he has become even more lethal in terms of wickets. Even in the last game against CSK, Bumrah combined with Trent Boult to wreck the opposition’s top-order. The duo have been amongst the top five bowlers in this season when it comes to operating during the Powerplay overs. Mumbai, as a team, too have established themselves as the best in the league this season when it comes to bowling the first six overs.

 

With Bumrah certainly having the quality to dismiss Buttler early on, it will be a double-edged sword for Rajasthan in having the keeper-batsman open again. While Boult has made himself useful during the back-end, Mumbai are definitely a better bowling side during the Powerplay when compared to the death overs. Bumrah himself hasn’t been hitting the yorkers perfectly this season. In fact, even CSK managed to score 41 off their last overs after being down and out in the last game. Will this make Rajasthan think that Buttler can take advantage of the death overs with Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag if he stays till the end?

 

In the end, it remains to be seen what Rajasthan want from a match-winner like Jos Buttler. Their requirement will see the end result change both positively and negatively.

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