If there has been one man who has played the role of a quintessential all-rounder in this edition of the Indian Premier League, Marcus Stoinis would probably walk away with top honours.
If adaptability, accountability and execution are the qualities of a top all-rounder, then Australian Marcus Stoinis has been the perfect example in IPL 2020.
Yes, he will have several close contenders -- Kieron Pollard of Mumbai Indians, Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings, Jason Holder of Sunrisers Hyderabad, Ben Stokes of Rajasthan Royals and Axar Patel of Delhi Capitals -- but no one has been so effective as Stoinis has been in IPL 2020.
On Sunday, Ricky Ponting's move to play Stoinis as an opening batsman luckily worked out for Delhi Capitals. Aggression has always been Ponting's middle name and if there was a time to show that, it had to be on Sunday against Sunrisers Hyderabad. (HIGHLIGHTS OF DC vs SRH)
Planning and execution can be strangers. At the business end of the IPL league stage when Delhi started losing successive matches. Ponting was worried because his plans were not being executed by Shreyas Iyer's men on the field. The worst came when Mumbai Indians routed Delhi Capitals in the first qualifier.
On Sunday, Delhi made some logical changes. Ajinkya Rahane replacing an out-of-form Prithvi Shaw was expected but Stoinis walking out as Shikhar Dhawan's opening partner was not.
For plans to work, you need a stroke of luck. Delhi were blessed with a large dose of it in Abu Dhabi.
Jason Holder dropping Stonis on three was the first sign that the day would be Delhi's. The Aussie (38 off 27 balls) capitalised on that chance and muscled his way through the Powerplay. The 86-run first-wicket partnership with Dhawan in less than nine overs was a blessing and probably decisive.
Stoinis has earlier opened in the Big Bash League but in the IPL, this was his first attempt. It is unlikely that he will open the innings against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday.
Ricky Ponting has used Marcus Stoinis well. The move to make Stoinis open vs Sunrisers Hyderabad was smart and arrogant too. Photo: BCCI
"Ricky (Ponting) had spoken to me a couple of times about the possibilities of opening the batting. It just worked out and we thought this was the game to do it. In one of the games, I batted at No.3 and it didn't come off as we were chasing 220," he recalled in a post-match chat in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Stonis broke the pack of SRH's batting in a deadly spell that swung the match in Delhi's favour.
He may not be the ideal death over bowler but on Monday, Stoinis made serious damage in an over each in the powerplay and death.
In the fifth over, Stoinis was on a hattrick. He got Priyam Garg and Manish Pandey just as the duo was settling down after the early loss of David Warner.
And then in the 17th over, with SRH needing 51 off 24 and Kane Williamson in full control, Stoinis got the Kiwi captain who chased a wide ball and paid the price for an expansive drive that didn't have enough power to clear deep cover. SRH were gutted.
"Bowling in this format is always hard and it's more about planning and having a good idea before you get to the ground," said Stoinis
For Stoinis, it's the clarity of the mind that makes the difference.
"Just be clear that in T20, you are not always trying to take wickets but control the run-rate and controlling the game builds some pressure."
Asked about the big final against Mumbai Indians, Stoinis stressed that there won't be too much tinkering with the gameplan as such.
"Preparations will be the same as usual. When big games are coming up, more important to stick to your usual strategies and routines, MI are a great team and they have been consistent all season, beaten us thrice. They are due an off day.
"We will just bring out our best game of cricket and play our best. I reckon that will be good enough," Stoinis said.
That's called Aussie confidence!