What does a worldwide lockdown with no live sport lead to? Of course, it leads to the formulation of various lists and a unique method of concoction of those lists.
Of course, this is one of those.
If you've used this period to catch up on lost time with TV series and watched Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, you would have noticed Dev Patel ask a fellow employee, "Why is a list of overrated films more engaging than, say, underrated?"
Well, we don't have the answer to that, but we bring to you a list of 10 underrated batsmen in world cricket today.
With the way that game has developed, it is difficult to categorise any player under a particular bracket across all formats. So this list will look at particular players and why they are underrated only within a particular format.
#1 Tom Latham
Since the start of 2018, no Test opener has scored as many runs as Tom Latham has. In a country like New Zealand, which is still one of the rare bowl-first destinations remaining in Test cricket, that is a sensational achievement.
In that time period, Latham has scored 1431 runs in 18 Tests at an average of 51.10. Even in terms of individual scores, only David Warner's recent 335* against Pakistan trumps Latham.
In a Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington in 2018, Latham carried his bat through the innings to finish with 264*. It was a game that New Zealand should have won. Eventually, though, the Kiwis were thwarted by Kusal Mendis and Angelo Mathews, who batted through a whole day's play to earn the Lankans a draw.
Latham has also started off 2020 on fire in the limited-overs format, batting at no.5. His ability against spin has been the most visible aspect of his game, with a strike-rate of 107.4 in 4 ODIs in 2020.
#2 Rishabh Pant
Now you might think that this is absolutely ludicrous. You may also think you have your valid reasons to think like that. But, like Rohit Sharma said on an Instagram chat with Yuvraj Singh recently, the scrutiny that he has received is unprecedented for someone so young.
Pant also is stepping into the realm of the impossible. He is MS Dhoni's successor. In a country like India, you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy. An impressive Test career has begun with centuries in England and Australia. But, his limited-overs travails in India blue haven't yet lived up to expectations.
However, Rishabh Pant, along with KL Rahul, has been the most impactful Indian batsman in the IPL. In a competition which, in general, is a lot more competitive than T20Is, Pant has 1172 runs in 30 games. Those runs have come at an average of 45.07, and a strike-rate of 168.8.
Having played 97 matches so far in all T20 cricket, Pant has more runs and a better strike-rate than Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni had at the same stage of their T20 careers.
After 97 T20s— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) March 31, 2020
Iyer 2735 runs @ 33 & 131
Pant 2675 runs @ 35 & 156
Rahul 2664 runs @ 38 & 139
Rohit 2417 runs @ 33 & 131
Kohli 2298 runs @ 30 & 130
Dhoni 2098 runs @ 36 & 133
Importantly, these runs have also come in T20 cricket, while he's got a Test average of nearly 40.
#3 Mushfiqur Rahim
Whether he likes it or not, Mushfiqur Rahim is the face of the many near-misses of Bangladesh cricket of recent times. Unfortunately, none more so than the 2016 World T20 match against India in Bengaluru.
However, over the last couple of years, and across all formats, Rahim has become a world-class performer for Bangladesh. He has scored runs in all conditions and at a decent clip when he has had to.
Especially in ODI cricket, Rahim has been a revelation in the last two years. He has averaged 51.50, with a strike-rate of 87, even as Bangladesh have not really had the happiest time in ODI cricket in the last couple of years.
In 2018, he played a famous knock of 144, to get Bangladesh to a competitive total against Sri Lanka in their Asia Cup opener in Dubai. They eventually won that game and made the final of that tournament. Rahim also has two double-hundreds in Tests in the last couple of years.
Even in T20Is, Rahim has been a lynchpin for Bangladesh, with only Mahmudullah Riyad scoring more runs than him in the last couple of years for Bangladesh.
#4 Dimuth Karunaratne
We spoke about Latham being the best Test opener in recent times, but the Sri Lankan captain is not one to be left too far behind.
Dimuth Karunaratne has scored only 59 runs less than Latham in the last couple of years. And, since 2017, has been an integral part of some famous serious victories for the Lankans.
His 196 in Dubai against Pakistan in the second Test of that series led the way to a Sri Lankan whitewash. He scored more than double the runs that anyone else did when Sri Lanka beat South Africa at home in 2018. And since taking over the captaincy, he has played critical knocks in Test wins against New Zealand and South Africa.
In largely troubled times for Sri Lankan cricket, Karunaratne has definitely been a massive ray of hope, both as captain and opening batsman.
#5 BJ Watling
In a world where there is a raging debate over whether specialist wicket-keepers must play in Test cricket, irrespective of how they can bat, somehow BJ Watling goes unnoticed. This is particularly surprising given that he's performed at a world-class level for a few years now.
There is a pattern in this current New Zealand team of its players being quiet, understated, and loving flying under the radar.
He's played more matches, scored more runs, and has more dismissals than any other wicketkeeper since his debut. But, he's so rarely mentioned in the same breath as even a Quinton de Kock or a Jonny Bairstow.
Watling's most recent marathon rescue act - he specialises in those - came at Mount Maunganui when his 205 took New Zealand to a massive first innings total. This effort came after they were five down for less than 200, and the Kiwis won that game by an innings.
It is simply what Watling does. He's not flashy, he's even ungainly and ugly at times. But he's got the ability to concentrate and shows the guts to play good old-fashioned Test cricket.
#6 Joe Denly
Through most of 2019, Joe Denly somehow became the symbol of England's faltering Test side, which didn't win a series all year. That changed when they went to South Africa at the end of the year.
England are a side filled with stroke-makers who are not particularly comfortable against the moving ball. Add this to the prospect of having to face a high-quality bowling opposition, and you'll realise that Denly's performances were nowhere near as bad as they were made out to be.
Denly averages exactly 30, after 26 innings in 14 Tests, which is nowhere near setting the world alight. But one super underrated aspect of his batting is his ability to occupy the crease and blunt the effects of a new ball.
Denly has faced 1958 balls in his Test career so far, which is an average of 75 balls per innings. Given that he's faced bowlers of the calibre of Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada and Trent Boult in challenging conditions in that time, those are not numbers that can be ridiculed, for someone batting at no. 3.
Somehow though, it feels like Denly became the fall-guy, especially during the Ashes series, for what was not a very strong batting unit at all.
#7 Jason Holder
Did you know that in the last two years of Test cricket, Jason Holder averages 43 with the bat?
The Windies skipper led his side to a famous series win against England, with a stunning double hundred in Barbados that rubbed salt on English wounds. This came in addition to his crucial contribution in bowling England out for 77.
Across formats though, Holder's batting hasn't quite reached the level that it is capable of. He has shown glimpses of his ability to hit massive sixes in limited-overs cricket, but too often, he bats far too low.
Holder's strike-rate against spin in white-ball cricket is considerably higher than what he manages against pace. But somehow, the Windies have still sent him out to bat right at the end of the innings, when the pacers are bowling.
With better usage of his ability with the bat, the West Indies have the ability to become an even more dangerous batting unit in white-ball cricket.
#8 Asad Shafiq
In the Babar Azam era of Pakistan cricket, where there is only one undisputed star in the side, Shafiq provides a steady presence in the team. Of course, a steady presence is something of an oxymoron in Pakistan cricket. But Shafiq, with almost 1000 runs at an average of 40 in his last couple of years of Test cricket, has been exactly that.
Pakistan have constantly kept changing openers from series to series and have also changed a couple of middle-order batsmen on demand. Yet, facing a demanding public, Shafiq's role has been crucial, along with Azhar Ali.
Post the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, Shafiq only has two hundreds. But, he's not averaged less than 35 in any calendar year since.
Of course, Pakistan will want Shafiq to make more defining contributions to take some of the stress off Babar. Nonetheless, he's been a crucial performer in a transition phase for Pakistani Test cricket.
#9 Dinesh Karthik
On face value, this could look like another weird choice of underrated batsman. But Dinesh Karthik's recent record in all T20 cricket is so good that it is shocking that he's left out of the Indian T20 set-up.
Karthik has been a victim of the cross-format approach the Indian selectors have taken in the last few years. It doesn't come as a surprise then that his failure in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup seems to have bolted the door on his entry to the T20I set-up.
In the last three years of IPL cricket, he has scored 1113 runs at an average of 41.22 and a strike-rate of 144.
One particularly interesting aspect of Karthik's T20 batting is his record against two of the finest T20 bowlers of recent times - Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.
He has scored 50 runs off 21 balls against Bumrah, and 38 off 24 balls against Archer, without ever being dismissed by either.
Karthik really should be the first name in the book to be India's finisher at the T20 World Cup later this year, if it happens on schedule.
#10 Henry Nicholls
Nicholls, in the New Zealand middle order, is another from the country of the under-rated that has flown under the radar, despite some serious performances in the last couple of years.
Sometimes, you might say that batting in a position just below Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor is a job that anyone would kill to do. But in most times, that means Nicholls comes into bat under the pressure of one of those two having gotten out.
Nicholls has averaged 48 in Test cricket in the last couple of years. Like Watling, he has also been involved in getting New Zealand out of the woods in some tricky situations.
He also put in a couple of impressive efforts as the opener in New Zealand's recent ODI whitewash of India.