Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) avoided a third straight loss to the Delhi Capitals (DC) in the IPL in their latest encounter, triumphing by 15 runs with the help of a fifty from Jonny Bairstow, forties from Warner and Williamson, and an excellent combined performance from their 5 bowlers.
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow provided us with a thrilling display of running between the wickets en route to an opening partnership of 77. Once Warner departed, the onus was on Bairstow to try and bat through on a pitch that seemed a tad slower than usual. The big boundaries weren’t helping the batsmen in the search for the big hits either. Kane Williamson, experiencing his first IPL outing this year, gave good company to Bairstow with some intelligent batting.
Bairstow eventually holed out to Nortje at mid-off just as he was looking to go for the big hits towards the end. Abdul Samad, whose arrival to the crease was much anticipated by viewers having heard of his big-hitting prowess, could not express himself to his fullest against the likes of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada in the last couple of overs, although he did smack Nortje for a towering, 86-metre six off his fourth delivery. Sunrisers Hyderabad finished with 162 on the board, giving their bowlers a little more than the previous game to defend.
In contrast to the previous game, the SRH bowlers provided an excellent start to their quest of defending the total, conceding only 34 runs in the powerplay – the joint lowest in this year’s IPL so far – along with the wicket of Prithvi Shaw in the first over. As a result, there wasn’t much pressure on their talismanic leg-spinner Rashid Khan to break through immediately, but regardless of that, he claimed the wicket of DC skipper Shreyas Iyer, caught at deep point. With only 5 frontline bowlers playing for SRH today, left-arm spinner Abhishek Sharma had to do a good job of containing the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, and Shimron Hetmyer in the middle-overs. Apart from his last over, which went for 15 mainly due to a couple of sixes from Pant, he did an excellent job, conceding only 19 off his first three.
Banking on the excellent, economical spells from the spinners, Thangarasu Natarajan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced an excellent display of death bowling, constantly hitting the yorker length and choking out the runs. Much was expected from Rishabh Pant after two of his contemporaries – Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan – produced two stunning knocks compiled with clean striking of the ball to help their team chase down a steep target.
Pant, though, could not replicate the heroics witnessed in the last couple of days, as he had to depart after finding Priyam Garg at deep square leg, trying to extravagantly sweep Rashid Khan. DC’s hopes of reaching home completely faded with the departure of Marcus Stoinis next over, leg-before to Natarajan, and they ended up 16 runs short of the target eventually.
3 main reasons behind SRH’s win today
Warner and Bairstow’s display of running between the wickets
An opening partnership of 77 in 9 and a half overs in a Twenty20 contest is a commendable feat in itself. But to score 43 of them in ones and twos in the heat of the United Arab Emirates, well, one needs immense endurance, stamina, and a good understanding with his/her batting partner between the wickets. It was hard to find the fence on most occasions tonight, with only 19 fours and 9 sixes being hit in the entire match.
As it turned out, Warner and Bairstow’s efforts between the wickets, particularly when they were converting those ones into twos, made a whole lot of difference between SRH’s innings and DC’s innings. If we look closely at the DC innings, we would witness that some of the DC batsmen, particularly Pant, were not too keen on converting ones into twos, despite throws coming in at first bounces from the deep. The first instance of urgency between the wickets came from Stoinis in the 18th over, the main reason being the required for him to be on strike.
Much better display from the fast bowlers today
In the previous game against KKR, SRH, defending a meagre total of 142, ended up conceding 52 in the powerplay, which put them at the boot, forget the backseat, as Shubman Gill and Eoin Morgan toyed with Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi and eased through to the target.
It was evident that the SRH bowlers had learned their lesson from Saturday, as they kept the Delhi Capitals down to 34 off the first six today – the joint lowest score in the powerplay in this year’s IPL – before the Rashid Khan’s arrival to the bowling crease. Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone for the rest of the bowlers in the first over by brilliantly setting up opener and half-centurion in DC’s previous game, Prithvi Shaw by avoiding width and bowling wicket-to-wicket for the first four deliveries, before swinging the ball away from Shaw and getting him to edge behind to Bairstow.
After Abhishek Sharma and Rashid Khan bowled SRH to a dominant position going into the slog stages, it was down to the three pacers to close out the game, and so they did, with an excellent display of death bowling as mentioned earlier. Thangarasu Natarajan, in particular, was the standout bowler with his pinpoint yorker-length deliveries and his occasional change-ups, conceding only 15 in his two remaining overs bowling to Pant, Hetmyer, and later Stoinis.
Abhishek Sharma coming good as a ‘fifth’ bowler
Technically, Abhishek Sharma was the fourth bowler to be introduced into SRH’s attack, but he was always going to be termed the fifth with the kind of bowlers SRH had tonight. The inclusion of Kane Williamson meant that Mohammad Nabi, a very productive bowling option, had to miss out, which meant that Abhishek had to bowl all four of his overs to DC’s left-handed heavy line-up of Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetymer, and Axar Patel.
Abhishek ended up doing a stunning job in containing the said batsmen (except Axar) down to dots, ones, and the occasional twos for the best part of his spell tonight along with providing adequate support to Rashid Khan in the middle stages, finishing with figures of 34 off his four overs, 12 of which came off his last two deliveries of the evening. Of course, Rashid, who was under criticism from some of our folks (Read: One), showed his class by picking up three crucial wickets for 14 off his four, including the one of Rishabh Pant at a stage where the match could have gone either way.