Match 49 of IPL 2021, KKR vs SRH, will see Kolkata, who are still in contention for a late berth in the top four, fighting it out against Sunrisers who are virtually out of chances to make it to the play-offs.
The underperforming top order of Sunrisers Hyderabad:
Things haven’t gone Sunrisers Hyderabad’s way this season, and they have only themselves to blame. Their campaign is almost done and dusted, but they haven’t found their best possible XI yet. Of course, the lousy batting performance of their premium batsmen has been the major hurdle.
Over the past couple of years, SRH’s fiery top-order, especially the openers, have been their most significant contributor. In the season 2019 and 2020, the top-order (1-3) made 73.60% and 62.88% of runs respectively. However, that percentage has reduced to 55.64 only this season.
Sunrisers Hyderabad's top order have the worst strike rate (113.98) and balls per boundary ratio (8.00) this season. They have also hit the lowest number of boundaries (93 - 63 fours and 30 sixes) so far. These numbers have worsened further since the restart in the UAE.
Their problem with them has been quite frustrating in several ways. Most of their batsmen haven't even tried attacking and, consequently, have played out too many balls. On average, they play around 74 balls per innings, which is the second-most among the lot. Furthermore, they lose a wicket after every 31 balls, comfortably the most this season.
Impact in Powerplay
The slow approach of the upper-order has impacted the scoring rate in the powerplay. The departure of Jonny Bairstow has only added to their misery.
They have been the second-slowest scoring team in the first six overs and take the most number of balls (6) to hit a boundary. Around 32% of their powerplay runs have come from Bairstow's bat only, despite him not featuring in the second leg. Barring him, every other batsman has played more than 45% dot balls in this phase.
Unlike the last two seasons, they have been heavily reliant on an individual player. Jonny Bairstow, earlier, and Jason Roy later have only tried maximising the field restrictions. But, cricket is a team game and requires a collective effort, which has distinctly been lacking for SRH.
Wriddhiman Saha's abysmal run of form
Wriddhiman Saha has been the biggest reason for SRH's poor record shown above. David Warner was already struggling for runs, and Saha's abysmal form dented SRH further. He never looked comfortable at the crease throughout the season.
Among all the openers to have played a minimum of 10 overs, Wriddhiman Saha has the worst strike rate (94.44) and balls per boundary ratio (11.45) in IPL 2021. In a batting unit like SRH, he cannot afford to bat at this pace as there are too many other players doing the same thing. In IPL 2020, he had the best strike rate (169.05) in the powerplay, and the team expected him to replicate the same again, especially in the absence of Bairstow.
But, he hasn't stepped up so far. He has, majorly, become an unwanted burden on his team now. But, the team needs to persist with him due to the lack of quality options in the squad.
The effective changes SRH can make for KKR vs SRH
While they are out of the playoffs race now, there is still plenty to play for. From the available set of players, they can try forming a new combination and look at how they perform. This will give them a clear idea of whom to invest in as well.
First of all, they need to bring back Manish Pandey in the XI again. He should open with Jason Roy and go berserk from the first ball itself. He should replace Priyam Garg.
While Priyam Garg is an exciting young talent, but his skillsets are not completely equipped for the T20s yet. Moreover, he isn't a fast-starter either. Pandey, though, can utilize the field restrictions in a much better way.
The right-handed batsman opened against Rajasthan Royals in the first half and played aggressively. He scored 31 runs at an awesome strike rate of 155 in the innings. He, along with Jason Roy, can form a dynamic opening pair and give some breathing space to the anchors below.
SRH should use Abhishek Sharma as a floater to counter the spinners. Kane Williamson at No. 3 and Abhishek and Holder as floaters provides versatility to the middle-order. All three are good players of spin and medium pacers and can handle the tricky middle-overs phase. Williamson will act as an anchor with the other batsmen playing attacking cricket around him.
This will lay a solid foundation for the pace bashers like Abdul Samad and Jason Holder. Samad should bat at No. 5 and take on the express pace. Holder, who has shown his range against the speedsters, can move up and down as required.
Saha should be used pretty much like MS Dhoni is using himself. Delay his entry as much as possible, and this will leave him with no option but to attack. This will form an all-around batting unit that has got several bases covered from the limited resources available.