IPL 2020

IPL 2021, SRH v KKR: Four Tactical Errors Sunrisers Hyderabad Made In The Defeat Against Kolkata Knight Riders

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Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) had a disappointing start to their campaign in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 as they lost their opening match in Chennai on Sunday (April 11).

SRH, the 2016 IPL champions, went down by a margin of 10 runs against rivals Kolkata Knight Riders (KRR) after a close-fought encounter at Chepauk.

The ‘Orange Army’ did win the toss and opted to bowl first, but that was the only thing that went their way as KKR managed to post a strong total of 187/6 in the first half and later defended it successfully.

While SRH will obviously be hurting from their loss at the start of the tournament, the team would do well to focus on some of their major errors in the game and take lessons from them in order to bounce back and win their next match on Wednesday (April 14) versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

And so today, we enlisted four such tactical errors from SRH that played a part in their defeat to KKR.

SRH

Four Tactical Errors SRH Made In The Defeat Against KKR

1. Where was Kane Williamson?

Kane Williamson scored 317 runs at an average of 45.28 with a strike-rate of 133.75 from his 12 innings in IPL 2020 in UAE last year. The classy New Zealand right-hand batsman did as well as one could in order to cement a place for himself in the middle-order. However, SRH’s dependable cog was missing from his team’s wheels in their IPL 2021 opener versus KKR.

Head coach Trevor Bayliss later explained the rationale behind leaving out Williamson, saying they felt he hasn’t had enough game time under his belt in recent weeks. Williamson didn’t play the entire limited-overs series at home against Bangladesh due to an injury, so there was a bit of strength to Bayliss’ justification.

Yet, one couldn’t help but feel SRH were better served just backing Williamson to play and regain his best form and rhythm in game scenarios, especially with the team’s middle-order a longstanding issue. There is no substitute for on-field play and so, Williamson could’ve been brought into the playing XI straightaway to bolster the batting unit.

2. Jonny Bairstow better suited to opening the innings

In Williamson’s absence, SRH went with Jonny Bairstow in the playing XI. But the aggressive England right-hander batted at No.4 instead of the position where he has previously done well for SRH, which is opening the innings.

And though Bairstow still produced a measured half-century after the early departure of designated openers David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha, his 40-ball 55 did reinforce that SRH are better off with him setting up the innings at the top of the order rather than having to resurrect it from the middle.

In the ODIs against India that went by, Bairstow opened the innings in all three matches and ended as the top run-getter for the series with 219 runs at an average of 73.00 and strike-rate of 120.33. SRH should reinstate Bairstow as an opener and have him attack the bowling from the start alongside Warner.

3. Is it time for SRH to look for an upgrade on Manish Pandey?

SRH have entrusted Indian batsman Manish Pandey for the anchoring duties in their middle-order for a while now. The right-hander has been quite consistent in his role as well, averaging 32.69 and 43.00 in the last two IPL seasons, respectively. However, the rate at which Manish has scored his runs hasn’t been so acceptable, with him striking at only 127.62 in IPL 2020 and 130.79 in IPL 2019.

Even while assigning the role of anchor to a player, SRH must keep in mind whether the individual involved is allowing them to maximise their 20-over quota or not because that is what T20 cricket is ultimately about. Even when his task is to hold the ship together from an end, Manish can’t eat out deliveries that others in the batting unit or in the squad could probably utilise better.

The KKR encounter, where Manish remained not out 61 for 44 deliveries in the run-chase, was a reiteration of the belief that SRH need an upgrade on him even in anchoring duties. What accentuated SRH’s problems after early hiccups is that, even though Manish played his part in helping his team recover, he failed to shift gears when the team really needed him to and couldn’t hit the big shots required.

4. Abdul Samad, SRH’s most underutilised resource

In IPL’s infancy as a league, Mumbai Indians (MI) used to mistime Kieron Pollard’s arrival to the crease. They were rigid in sending Pollard only at the back end of the innings, instead of identifying the situations and match-ups correctly and promoting him up as per the match’s demands.

The case of SRH’s designated Indian power-hitter, Abdul Samad, could remind few people of the way MI employed Pollard in the early years of the IPL. Samad joined the SRH set up ahead of IPL 2020 in UAE last year but has hardly had opportunities to bat for his team since then.

Against KKR, despite needing 57 runs off 24 balls at one stage in their chase, SRH showed no flexibility with regards to Samad’s position and kept him at No.7. The team instead preferred all-rounders Mohammad Nabi and Vijay Shankar to bat ahead of him.

Both Shankar and Nabi failed to get going, and scored only 25 runs in the 18 crucial deliveries they collectively faced. When Samad finally got his chance to bat, he smashed KKR fast-bowler Pat Cummins for a couple of massive sixes and ended with an unbeaten 19 off 8 balls.

SRH should rue the fact that they didn’t utilise Samad properly once again. His explosiveness can’t be more misused, as the think-tank continue to keep him down the order rather than making an optimum use of the promising six-hitter up their sleeves.

Samad can be used to set the cat amongst the pigeons for most oppositions in the middle-overs or be given more time to maximise the death-overs. But as it stands, he is SRH’s most underutilised resource.