The statistics show AB de Villiers should bat at No 3 in the IPL, but former New Zealand bowler Iain O’Brien believes it’s too risky and that the South African captain should rather come in at four.
The debate on where De Villiers is best utilised in the Royal Challengers Bangalore batting line-up continues, after he scored 57 against the Rajasthan Royals in a washed-out game on Wednesday.
It was De Villiers’ first fifty of the tournament, bettering his previous highest score of 47 not out which he also scored batting at No 3 against the Royals on 24 April.
De Villiers has only batted at No 3 twice so far this tournament, and his batting average of 47.72 at No 3 throughout his IPL career is his best average in any position.
In the washed-out game against the Royals on Wednesday, RCB were in trouble on 19-2 after they lost Chris Gayle (10) and Virat Kohli (1) early. They managed to reach 59-2 at the end of the power play, which is the most runs they have scored in a power play in seven matches to date.
They finished their innings on 200-7, thanks in large to the 74-run stand De Villiers had with Mandeep Singh to get the innings back on track.
Although De Villiers played a big part in that recovery coming in at three, O’Brien argues he should move one spot down to four.
‘RCB are risking too much having Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers in the top three. Maybe he should bat at four.
‘It’s hard to argue with those numbers [De Villiers’ average batting at three], but I’d like to see him come in at four with about 13 overs to go,’ O’Brien told ESPNCricinfo in a video discussion.
Meanwhile, Cape Cobras captain Justin Ontong says South Africa should follow the Delhi Daredevils’ cue and also utilise the potential devastating batting power of Proteas star JP Duminy higher up the order.
Ontong was approached about the performances by Duminy for Delhi in the Indian Premier League.
Duminy, the Delhi Daredevils skipper, has scored 220 runs at an average of 44 in his first seven games for the Indian franchise. He also captured seven wickets at an average of 11.28.
The 30-year old player was particularly devastating in the win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, scoring 54 off 41 balls and then taking four for 17 with his off-spin.
Duminy has been a revelation with his match-winning innings at No 3, instead of filling the customary No 6 role.
‘JP loves the responsibility of being captain and leading as well as fulfilling a senior role,’ said Ontong.
‘I am glad that Delhi has promoted him to the No 3 spot. He needs a bit more time to settle in. I hope South Africa will also use him higher up the order. He bats hopelessly too low [in T20-matches].
‘Many observers say JP is a good finisher. But people forget he is a good batsman, period. In T20-cricket, your best batsmen should bat for the majority of the overs,’ said Ontong.
Duminy is no stranger to the top of the order.
He previously also opened the batting for the Cobras in limited-overs competitions and can play the twin role of accelerator and finisher with ease.