IPL 2022 | Bairstow enjoys opening slot for Punjab Kings after struggling in middle order

Bairstow has mostly beaten in the middle of the T20Is for England over the last two years, although he has opened innings in a few games

Bairstow has mostly beaten in the middle of the T20Is for England over the last two years, although he has opened innings in a few games

Jonny Bairstow has not opened for England in too many games recently but he is enjoying his job at the top of the order for the Punjab Kings in the ongoing Indian Premier League.

Bairstows 66 of just 29 balls using four limits and seven sixes laid the foundation for a 54-run win for the Punjab Kings against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 13 May.

“I am pleased with the way I have moved on to open the stroke training. It has been very fun to be back at the top,” Bairstow said at the post-match press conference.

Bairstow arrived late for this edition of the tournament and initially started in the middle order, where he struggled to find his groove. The team management then promoted him to the top and captain Mayank Agarwal moved down in order.

The move paid off as Bairstow, after making one in their first match as a premiere against Gujarat Titans, roared back into form with 56 against Rajasthan Royals before Friday’s 66.

“It’s a day like that. A couple of them loosen up and it’s your day,” he said after the match.

Bairstow has mostly beaten in the middle of the T20Is for England over the past two years, although he has opened innings in a few games. He also kept wickets when Jos Buttler was not playing.

“It’s a completely different thing to play for England and to play here. Through the middle there is a job to do for England. When I come here, the statistics indicate that I like to open the batting,” said the 32-year-old.

Before Friday’s match, Bairstow had made 136 runs in eight IPL rounds with a strike rate of 117.24, but he never thought he was having a tough time in the tournament. “It depends on what you really classify as a tough tournament,” he said.

Bairstow gives the Punjab King the power to score powerplay points

“Because I have obviously got stuck twice, third man once, and run out on 19.5 overs so there is a difference between being selfless and that it is a difficult competition.” Bairstow was sensational on Friday when he scored 59 of 83 points in the powerplay, beating RCB key bowler Josh Hazlewood. He reached his fifty on 21 balls.

“There are many quality bowlers in the IPL and sometimes you have to try to get them from the lengths because someone like him hits that length consistently. So you have to try to get him from that length to areas you want to hit.

“From the end, he bowled at, the line he bowled was outside the stump. Just think that sometimes there are balls in your area, and you have to try to take advantage of it.

“Sometimes there are fine lines where you can get stuck on the border, just inside the rope, or you can get a thin edge on another. Today was a good day. Be happy to take advantage of the powerplay.” Asked if there was a game plan to attack opposition bowlers, he said: “It has generally been the basis of how we have tried to go throughout the tournament,” said Bairstow.

“It’s been the way the guys want to go in the game. You may have noticed that we’re sometimes lost wickets in clusters in the middle, which has stifled our progress from there, but I think overall that’s where we wanted to be. try to do that for most of the tournament.

“It does not happen all the time, but if we can do it more often than not, then we can hopefully get the job done when a couple of people show up.”

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