Litton Das has been the highest run-getter so far this year in international cricket. He has already crossed 1000 international runs this year as the first batter and it's safe to say that he has been in the form of his life. But can you say the same when it comes to the shortest format? Yes, Litton scored a match-winning half-century in the previous series itself but it came after a string of failures. The innings he played against the West Indies in Roseau in the first T20I really summed up Litton as a T20I batter in the last year or so.
In his last 20 innings in T20Is, Litton played more than 20 balls only five times and the strike-rate crossed the 130-mark just once. After an extended run of low scores while opening the batting, the team management decided to have him bat at three in a World Cup match against the West Indies. In that match, Litton scored a run-a-ball 44 but never looked his usual self and his ultra-cautious approach didn't really help.
He returned to the opening position in the next match against South Africa but had little to do as wickets kept falling around him. He ended up scoring a sorry looking 36-ball-24. Against Australia, he went first ball off Mitchell Starc.
The right-handed batter found himself out of the squad in the next series against Pakistan but the form of the batters that replaced him failed to do anything substantial. Litton returned to the squad against Afghanistan and scored a fifty in his comeback innings. But in the 'abandoned' first T20I against the West Indies, Litton was slated to bat at four and he couldn't get going at all when he was required to go hard. He returned after scoring an un-Litton like 9 off 14 balls.
You have to remember that number three or number four are not the batting positions Litton prefers. He has opened the innings for the most part of his career. In at three, he has batted nine times in the T20s and the strike-rate there is only 112.8. In at four, his strike-rate is even worse- 79.7. Now if you ask a batter to suddenly bat out of position in T20 cricket, the chances of success will decrease.
Litton Das is not a destroyer anymore. He has made a change to his game in order to be more successful in ODIs and T20Is. Now he takes time to get his eye in, which is evident from his ODI numbers as well. In the last two years, his powerplay strike-rate in the 50-over format is 66.2 which is lower than all other batters with 200 or more runs. If you send someone like that in a situation when you have to go hard in T20s, it's not the right way to go.
As of now, Test is Litton's most preferred format and often it's easier for batters like him to excel in Tests rather than in T20Is. Look at Rishabh Pant. He is having a very hard time in T20Is but taking Test cricket by storm. Litton was seen struggling to get the ball away and get off strike against the West Indies. It's not a problem in Tests and to some extent in ODIs as there will be enough time to make up. He has been successful batting in that way in ODIs but the approach is not working in the shortest format.
It looks like the likes of Munim Shahriar and Anamul Haque Bijoy will get a substantial run as openers in this format. But for Litton Das, it doesn't seem ideal to bat in at three or in the middle-order as he takes some time to settle down. With the T20 World Cup approaching, the management has to think seriously about the batting position of Litton Das. The chances of failure are high if he continues to bat out of his preferred position which might cause him to lose his confidence.
Litton averages just 15 since the start of 2021 in this format including that fifty against Afghanistan although his numbers in the other two formats are quite impressive and probably time has come for the talented batter to focus more on those two formats.