Nicholas Pooran is one of the best T20 batters going around in world cricket at the moment. His growth and claim to fame in T20 leagues across the world has been nothing short of sensational. In the last couple of years, Pooran has earned the reputation of being one of the best spin hitters in white-ball cricket. For a player with such calibre, the return in the ongoing season of the IPL has been poverty-stricken.
In the 3 games, PBKS have played in IPL 2020, Pooran has been made to bat out of his favorable position a couple of times. In the game against RR, Pooran was sent in at 5 in the 18th over. Pooran tried to whack a slow bouncer and was dismissed by a Sakariya stunner. In the third game, Pooran made his entry in the 17th over and gets out to a pacer trying to slice a fuller length delivery.
Only in the second game did Pooran get a chance to bat in what is considered to be close to his best phase. It was almost the end of the powerplay. But the situation wasn’t ideal. It was the time when Deepak Chahar was breathing fire. Pooran was dismissed trying to pull a short ball aimed at his body. Teams have now come up with a clear plan of bowling pace and bowling short at him.
Is Pooran really good against spin?
Pooran who is known for his ability to tackle spin was put into situations that are not his forte. We talk a lot about how good Pooran is against spin. Is it all about what meets the eye? Is Pooran so good against spin? Yes! Pooran has been fantastic against spin. When we make a comparison between his returns against pace and spin, there is a clear difference. Since Pooran is an upper middle-order batsman, he gets to face a lot of balls only in the middle overs phase. Hence only the middle overs are considered in the below chart.
By looking at the chart, we can see that the strike rates are almost similar. The strike rate tells us how well the batsman can strike. If we need a better picture to judge a batsman, it is better to combine the average. The average tells us how long he can do it. Pooran has been dismissed six times facing pace averaging 26.83 and then his average shoots up to 112 against spin having been dismissed only twice. That shows us how consistently Pooran can accumulate runs against spinners at a staggering strike rate.
How does Pooran compare against other batsmen in the league?
When we go on to plot the batting average and strike rate of all batters in the league who have scored a minimum of 200 runs against spin in the middle overs, Pooran sets himself apart from the rest. Pooran is the only batsman who averages more than 50 and strikes at more than 150. If that’s not elite, we don’t know what else is!
Now, how can PBKS make things better for Pooran?
The post powerplay phase is where teams usually tend to slow down. But to Punjab’s rescue, they have a beast in Nicholas Pooran who can accelerate in this phase and keep the scoreboard moving. When we look at how the top 4 batsmen of PBKS have done in the 7-12 over phase, we see that Pooran stands out.
KL Rahul’s approach has been under the radar for a long time now. KL looks to bat deep. Looking at his approach we can make out that he is not going to take the risk and accelerate at this phase and the numbers also show the same. Mayank on the other hand looks to accelerate but is more likely to lose his wicket in the process. Meanwhile, Gayle gives his wicket away less often compared to Mayank and KL but doesn’t strike at a high rate.
PBKS have a ready-made solution in hand in the form of Nicholas Pooran to play the aggressor role in the overs 7-12 and continue to take on the spinners in the latter half of the middle overs. But PBKS have somehow not realized the true potential of Pooran and his ability.
There have been enough numbers suggesting how good is Pooran against spin. Now it’s time to break it down into multiple bowling types. The numbers again suggest that Pooran has struggled against pace. Pooran has been able to take on the spinners very well but has been susceptible to the ball turning away from him. At the same time, Pooran has been terrific against the ball coming in. Hasn’t spared the leg spinners and the left-arm orthodox bowlers.
In the upcoming game against SRH, it will be a crucial battle between one of the best spin hitters and the best leg spinner in the world. We saw that Pooran has been susceptible to the ball turning away from him. That’s the case only when there is a right-arm off-spinner bowling to him. Rashid who is known for bowling googlies more often than the leg spinners might not trouble Pooran. Pooran faced 28 googlies in IPL 2020 and scored 51 runs off them being dismissed only once. On the other hand, Nabi might be a good ploy against Pooran.
Moving into the game day, It’s time for PBKS to promote Pooran up the order and make him face spin more often than to bat him at death and make him face pace which has not been his comfort zone. With a top order consisting of KL, Mayank, and Gayle, PBKS will find it hard to slot in Pooran. But Pooran being ridiculously good in the middle overs phase, PBKS won’t be reluctant in the games to come to push Pooran up the order. A fall of wicket post powerplay should mean that Pooran strides out to bat in the middle!