2nd T20I: Should Krunal Pandya bat higher for India?
Krunal Pandya has a career T20 batting strike-rate of 146.46. © Getty

In his 10 T20Is for India, the allrounder Krunal Pandya has batted five times.

On debut against West Indies in November 2018, he batted at No 7 and helped India chase 110 with five wickets left, hitting an unbeaten 21 off nine balls with three fours. This, after he claimed 1/15 in his four overs.

Later that month, against Australia in Brisbane, Krunal batted No 7 again and made two off four balls in four-run loss. Against New Zealand earlier this month, he he batted at No 8 and scored 20 from 18 balls in a huge loss in Wellington and then in the decider in Hamilton, was not out on 26 off 13 balls as India lost by four runs.

In that final T2oI, the 27-year-old struck two fours and two sixes as the asking rate escalated, and there was criticism of Dinesh Karthik turning down singles that would have put the allrounder on strike. On Sunday, Krunal was back batting at No 7 and made one run off one ball against Australia.

Five innings, 70 runs, a best of 26 not out and a strike-rate of 140. (READ: Upbeat Krunal confident of India’s chances)

Mumbai Indians bought Krunal Pandya back for Rs 8.8 crore after his heroics in 201
Mumbai Indians bought Krunal Pandya back for Rs 8.8 crore. (PTI)

In a line-up that has at at some time comprised a combination of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar and KL Rahul, it is tough for Krunal to break into the top six.

In the first T20I against Australia, Dhawan was rested. Hardik is out of the series with injury. Rahul will in all probability open again on Wednesday after scoring a half-century. Pant has been batted at No 4 in his most recent T20Is. Karthik, after failing on Sunday, may be dropped for the final game with Shankar getting a game. Shankar batted at No 3 and 4 in the New Zealand T20Is.

So it is it difficult for Krunal to get a break higher than No 7, unless the team management tries him out as an experiment. With a career T20 batting strike-rate of 146.46 he has proven for Mumbai Indians and Baroda his big-hitting skills.

Krunal began to be spoken of as a potential T20I player for India after he delivered Man-of-the-Match performances in the 2017 IPL season’s semi-final and final as Mumbai Indians surged to the title. In last year’s IPL, after Mumbai Indians bought him back for Rs 8.8 crore – the most for an uncapped player at the auction – Krunal scored 228 runs at a strike-rate of 145.22 and claimed 12 wickets while conceding runs at 7.07 per over.

In the early stages of the 2018 IPL, he smashed 31 not out off 12 balls to help MI beat Kings XI Punjab.