Kevin Pietersen (left) and Eoin Morgan © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen (left) and Eoin Morgan © Getty Images

 

 By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

They have got a very good batting line-up, but I’d argue whether they are the best in the world at the minute because I think our top six might be – Graeme Swann

 

The English off spinner claims that the England’s top six is better than a batting line-up that boasts the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir. A brave statement, but one has to agree that England has a very diverse batting line-up. Right from Andrew Strauss to Matt Prior, each batsman brings an unique flavour to their team.

 

Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott are the marathon men. They will grind it in the middle and make the opposition work hard to dislodge them. In the words of Swann, “If there is an uglier top three in the world than Andrew Strauss, Cook and Trott, I don’t know of it.”

 

Ian Bell is the most elegant batsman in the line-up. He brings solidity in the middle between the two dashers Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan. At No 7, they have Prior who can score quickly in any situation and acts as a link between the top order and the lower order. Having said that, two batsmen in their line-up stand out especially because of the impact they can make. They are the forces of destruction who can demoralize the opposition with their style of play. In this article we will look at the dashers of the England batting line-up: Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan.

 

Pietersen and Morgan are batsmen who like to dominate the bowling and stamp their authority. They like to be a step or two ahead of the bowlers and prevent them from gaining an upper hand. The longer they stay at the wicket, the more damage they can affect. As a result the opposition is left demoralized as even the good deliveries gets spanked to the boundary. Both of them have a very unique style of play and can be very unpredictable on their day. With a solid top order, they bring in a sense of dynamism into the line-up. Needless to say, they will be the ones who would go for the kill when England face India in the Test series.

 

Both of them stand out due to their ability to innovate. Pietersen uses his height to good effect as he uses his long reach to get to the ball. This allows him to charge the bowlers more effectively. He hits the ball with a lot of power and flamboyance. One shot that he plays better than anyone is the switch hit as he transfers his footing quickly and executes the shot with fantastic timing. It’s a shot that can disconcert the bowler’s line and length.

 

In contrast, Morgan waits for the ball to come to him. This also allows him to play the spinners very well. On a few occasions he gives them the charge but when he plays the ball late, it really catches ones eye. His shots off the backfoot are a treat. Morgan is more innovative compared to Pietersen. He plays the reverse hit (not the sweep) even against fast bowlers! This fearless approach also gives him the ability to hit the ball in very uncanny areas where a fielding captain wouldn’t usually place a fielder.

 

Morgan is very young in Test cricket and hasn’t played India. It would be interesting to see how he plays Harbhajan Singh. He can take a leaf out of Pietersen’s book who has had quite a few memorable battles with the Indian bowling attack over the years. In all probability his nemesis, “pie chucker” Yuvraj Singh, will not feature in the Lord’s Test and this would make him feel a lot better as there wouldn’t be any left-arm spinner in the opposition ranks. However, he would be aware that his encounters with Zaheer Khan have been equally interesting with a war of words around the corner. Nevertheless, Pietersen has managed three hundreds against India, two of which came on India’s last tour to England in 2007.

 

Here are Pietersen’s stats against India:

 

M

Runs

Avge

100s

Highest

8

710

47.33

3

144

 

His average against India is almost a point short of his career average, but what it doesn’t indicate is that whenever he got hundreds,England got themselves into very strong positions. Thus, he is an impact player and this time around he isn’t alone as he has Morgan for company. The England team management have done a very wise thing by putting a stable batsman like Ian Bell in between the two dashers in their line-up. With the two aggressive players in the middle, the team needed a solid player to add sanity to their batting.

 

Pietersen and Morgan will strive to create an impact against India. With Pietersen at the crease one can expect a bit of sledging but with Morgan it would only be his bat that would do all the talking. Pietersen would be looking forward to continuing the interesting contests with the Indian bowling attack and Morgan would be looking to make an impression on the Indian think-tank. The two dashers are at different stages of their careers but all they have on their minds is domination and runs.

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)