MI vs SRH – Sunrisers fighting for success in Chepauk after five straight losses at the venue, head into Mumbai Indians in game nine of IPL 2021.
Not every day you get to see a left-arm orthodox bowler bowling at the death. But, it became a common sight, rather a game-breaking move for both the teams defending a low score at Chepauk in the last two games played over there.
In the game against MI, KKR had the upper hand for almost 35 overs. The moment Rana, a settled left-handed batsman got out, Rohit got in Krunal to bowl at an unsettled Shakib and two new incoming right-handers. As a result, Krunal almost broke the game there picking a wicket and conceding just one run of his over. Had Krunal held on to the one that Russell hit straight to him, the game would have been sealed there.
It didn’t end there. 24 hours later at the same venue, another left-arm orthodox bowler ran through a series of right-handed batsmen in a crucial phase of the game.
The wicket was slow. It gripped onto the surface. It turned square. There was so much assistance for a spinner, to the extent where a captain defending a low score went on to trust their spinner to bowl at the death.
What do we observe here? Russell, Karthik, Manish, Bairstow, Samad, a clutter of right-handed batsmen were outfoxed by the ball turning away from them. Would the captains have taken the risk of bowling an SLA had there been a left-hander present in the middle? Would have been a big NO!
In the 138 balls that SLAs have bowled in Chepauk this season, 112 balls have been bowled when there were two right-handed batsmen at the crease. That’s almost 81.1% of the total balls bowled. We can see that captains tend to hold back their SLAs when there is a left-handed batsman at the crease.
When you look at the dimensions of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the square leg boundary is short for the right-handed batsman and they tend to sweep or slog-sweep an SLA against the turn to get quick runs. This is exactly what the SRH batsmen tried and gave their wicket away in a bunch.
Coming back to the game between SRH and MI, we can’t rule out the possibility of an SLA vs right-hander battle repeat. While both teams are equipped with potent left-arm orthodox spinners in Krunal Pandya and Shahbaz Nadeem, it’s the quality of left-handed batsman and where they bat that comes in to focus.
Mumbai Indians are one side who know how to win games at Chepauk. They satisfy every requirement of qualifying as one of the best T20 sides in the world and one such requirement is having left-handed batsmen all over their batting order. De Kock opening, Kishan at 4, Krunal at 7. They have zero headaches over how to maintain the left-right combination.
SRH, on the other hand, have got just one high-quality left-handed batsman and a few other exciting prospects in Abhishek Sharma and Virat Singh from the domestic circuit. They also have Shreevats Goswami who has hardly found any success at the IPL level.
How does SRH go about their batting order?
Warner is a fix at the top of the order and the major advantage is that he’s a left-hander. Who opens along with Warner? Saha was good in the games that he played last season. But should they persist with Saha and make him open? If Saha opens, Pandey bats at 3. Pandey has been a gun batsman in the powerplay but has found it very hard to fire after the powerplay. The more number of balls Pandey faces, the chances of an SRH win decrease.
MI vs SRH – When Manish Pandey faced more than 25 balls since 2018
Win % : 25
Say we fix Pandey as the second opener and ask him to bat with full freedom, he will set the tone for SRH in the Powerplay phase. Now if Pandey is dismissed, SRH can look to slot in Jonny Bairstow straight at number 3. Bairstow has been a beast of a player post powerplay against both spin and pace.
What if Warner, the player who’s known to bat long is the first one to give away his wicket? It’s time for the domestic top-order batsmen to take charge. Abhishek Sharma seems to be a good option at the top. But with SRH being awful at the back end of their innings, SRH would want to preserve Sharma for the end.
They can look to promote Virat Singh, a southpaw who has had two stellar seasons at the domestic level. He has also been playing the number 3 role for his domestic side for a long and SRH can give him a go at the top.
If Kane Williamson is fit, he walks in straight into the XI. SRH can afford to play both Bairstow and Kane in the XI. But who enters when? With a fall of an early wicket, Kane can walk in and stabilize. Bairstow can kick in with some firepower at the end. But how do you split them and get in a left-hander between them? This is where Abhishek Sharma comes into the picture. Sharma should be used as a floater to always maintain the balance between left and right.
If SRH can look to maintain this batting order, they definitely can post a solid total at the dreadful Chepauk wicket. With the kind of Indian bowling attack they have got, SRH can easily afford to play three overseas batsmen. If Kane Williamson is unfit, SRH can look to slot in Nabi or Holder down the order. If SRH can look to employ this, they can turn things around quickly!