Delhi Capitals' decision to promote Marcus Stoinis as the opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 was almost a flop if Jason Holder had taken the catch when the Australian all-rounder was on 3. But the move paid off with Stoinis contributing 38 and stitching a stand of 86 for the opening wicket with Shikhar Dhawan. It was a gamble that DC took, as Stoinis has never played as the opener in IPL before.
Here are a few more gambles that have paid off in IPL history.
1) Promoting Ambati Rayudu as the opener in IPL 2018
MS Dhoni has a history of promoting players as openers. In international cricket, he has promoted Rohit Sharma as the opener, and the Hitman became the most destructive opener in limited-overs cricket. In IPL 2018, he promoted Ambati Rayudu as the opener and the former Mumbai Indians batsman responded with runs from the bat, even scoring a ton. Although he was back to middle-order in the later stages of the game, Rayudu's opening gamble paid off, and Dhoni used him as a floater.
2) CSK plays R Ashwin as a powerplay bowler in 2011
During the 2011 IPL, Dhoni gambled on R Ashwin to bowl in the powerplay as he felt the off-spinner has had the variations to fox batsmen, and get their wickets. And the move worked wonders, with Ashwin taking the crucial wicket of Chris Gayle in the final against RCB. Ashwin later said he likes bowling in the powerplay overs, as it gives him more opportunity to take wickets as batsmen would look to go after his bowling to make use of the field restrictions.
3) Ben Stokes promoted as the opener in IPL 2020
After playing a few opening combinations, and meeting with mixed results, Rajasthan Royals gambled on Stokes as the opener. He has never before opened in any format, except for a Test match when England was looking for a quick declaration. And Royals' move paid off, with Stokes coming up with a brilliant 107 not out to help his team beat Mumbai Indians and chase down a big total of 196. In the next match, he scored a fifty as the opener. Although the move came too late, Royals are set to persist with Stokes as the opener in the next season.
4) Manvinder Bisla as the opener in 2012 IPL final
An injury to pacer L Balaji in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2012 forced KKR to pick up speedster Brett Lee in the final. But that meant Brendon McCullum was benched due to four overseas players rule. And that forced KKR to bring in an unknown player in Manvinder Bisla for the final. And if that was not enough, KKR gambled by giving him the opener's spot in place of an established players such as Jacques Kallis or Yusuf Pathan. But the move paid off as Bisla played the knock of his life, striking 89 to help KKR chase down 191 in the final against CSK.
5) MI gives the final over to Lasith Malinga in IPL 2019 final
MI had to defend 9 runs off the final over in IPL 2019 final. And they gave the task of bowling the final over to Lasith Malinga who was out of sorts that day, conceding 42 runs off 3 overs, with 0 wickets to his tally. There were options to bowl Hardik Pandya who has conceded just 3 runs off his only over, or even Krunal Pandya. But captain Rohit Sharma gambled on Malinga to do the job. With 2 runs to defend off the final ball, Malinga brought all his experience to the fore, and got Shardul Thakur dismissed LBW to help MI win the match by just a run, and bag their fourth title.
Cover Credits: IPLT20official