Since the 2016 edition of the Indian T20 League, a total of 81 players have batted at number five. However, only 25 of them have scored 100 or more runs, and if we whittle that down further, only 15 out of these 25 players have accumulated more than 200 runs.
In fact, these 15 players are the batsmen who have played a significant number of times at this position and hence, the sample size of their performances is big enough to gauge their quality.
Karthik and Dhoni the best in this role
The main criteria of being a good middle-order batsman in T20 cricket is having the ability to score a significant volume of runs at a brisk pace.
Dinesh Karthik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni fulfil that criteria in an excellent manner. While Dhoni has an RpI (Runs per Innings) and strike-rate of 30.14 and 137.91 respectively, Karthik's corresponding figures of 29.71 and 136.85 respectively are only marginally lower.
The Kolkata skipper, however, has a marginally better Balls per Boundary (5.92) as compared to his Chennai counterpart’s corresponding figure of 6.29. Moreover, Karthik is the highest run-scorer at this position during this period as well, with Dhoni following him at second.
Andre Russell as fierce as ever
Kolkata have majorly used Andre Russell at number 6 and 7 over the years. However, he has made nine appearances at number five since 2016 and has amassed a total of 209 runs at an RpI of 23.22 and a sensational strike-rate of 204.90. None of the other 14 batsmen even come close to matching his strike-rate during this period.
Pant and Maxwell have enjoyed success too
Rishabh Pant is the third-highest run-getter at number five, with 395 runs to his name during this period at an RpI of 26.33 and an excellent strike-rate of 156.75.
Glenn Maxwell hasn't done bad either, with 294 runs scored at an RpI of 24.50, and an even better strike-rate (169.94) than Pant. In fact, these are perfect returns for a number five batsman. Their high strike-rates sum up how good they are as well.
Aaron Finch makes a rare appearance in the middle-order
We have seen Aaron Finch as an opener for the major part of his career and that too, across all formats. However, the now-defunct Gujarat team had used him in the middle-order extensively during 2016 and 2017.
In a total of 14 innings at number five since 2016, Finch's numbers read 382 runs at an RpI of 27.29 and a strike-rate of 148.06. There is no doubt that Finch is a dangerous opener but these numbers prove that he is highly effective as a middle-order batsman as well.
Not the right number for Stokes and Buttler
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are two of the fiercest strikers of the ball in T20 cricket. However, even after playing more than 10 innings at number five in the Indian T20 League since 2016, none of the two batsmen have numbers to brag about.
While Stokes has a disappointing RpI and strike-rate of 16.40 and 126.80 respectively, Buttler's corresponding figures of 17 and 127.01 aren't inspiring either.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dibyangshu Sarkar
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