Jonny Bairstow hasn’t opened for England in too many matches of late but he is relishing his job at the top of the Punjab Kings command in the ongoing Indian Premier League. Bairstow’s 66 on just 29 balls with four boundary assists and seven sixes set the stage for a 54-point victory for the Punjab Kings against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
“I’m happy with the way I made the transition to the open batting. It’s been really nice to be back on top,” Bairstow said in the post-game press conference.
Bairstow arrived late for this edition of the tournament and initially started in the middle order, where he struggled to find his rhythm. The team management then promoted him to the top and captain Mayank Agarwal moved up the order himself.
The move paid off as after scoring a goal in his opener against Gujarat Titans, Bairstow found his form with a 56 against Rajasthan Royals ahead of Friday’s 66.
“It’s one of those days. A few come out and it’s your day,” he said after the game.
Bairstow has mostly struck in the middle order in 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 commodity to play for England and to play here. In the middle there is work to be done for England. Coming here, the stats suggest I like opening the stick” , the 32-year-old said.
Heading into Friday’s game, Bairstow had scored 136 runs in eight IPL innings at a 117.24 strike rate, but he never thought he was going through a tough time in the tournament. “It really depends on what you classify as a tough tournament,” he said.
“Because obviously I’ve been caught thin-legged twice, third man once, and missed 19.5 overs, so there’s a difference between being selfless and it’s tough competition. ” Bairstow was sensational on Friday as he scored 59 of 83 on the power play, beating RCB key bowler Josh Hazlewood. He reached his 50s in 21 balls.
“There are a lot of quality bowlers in the IPL and sometimes you have to try to get them out of their length because someone like him is constantly hitting that length. So you have to try and get him out of that length in the areas you want to hit.
“From the end he was playing, the line he was playing on was off stump. Just think sometimes there are balls in your area and you have to try and take advantage of them.
“Sometimes it’s thin lines where you might get caught on the edge, just inside the rope, or you might get a thin edge on another. Today was a good day. I was happy to take advantage of the power play.” When asked if there was a game plan for attacking opposing bowlers, he replied: “That’s generally been the philosophy of how we’ve tried to run the whole tournament,” Bairstow said.
“That’s how the guys want to approach the process of the game. You may have noticed that we sometimes lost bunch wickets in the middle which stifled our progress from there, but I think in the ut together that was how we wanted to try to do it for the majority of the tournament.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, but if we can do it more often than not then hopefully when a few people get up we can get the job done.”
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