It has become crystal clear how big a hole David Warner — who had a marathon journey for past three IPL seasons — has left in the team. An explosive start from the top order hasn’t happened on the consistent basis for Sunriser’s Hyderabad this season. The game between SRH and KXIP proves to be just another evidence. After winning the toss, Ravichandran Ashwin invited SRH to bat which seemed to have something on it for the pace bowlers. Soon after the openers came out to bat, it was always going to be some few tough overs upfront. Young pacer form Kanpur Ankit Rajpoot showed what he is capable of in a pitch that suited him by removing Kiwi captain Kane Williamson for a duck in the first over.
Following overs from Rajpoot showed that it definitely wasn’t easy job being a batsman. He bowled with some good pace. But, more importantly, he swung the ball little bit. It didn’t take him any time to expose Shikhar Dhawan’s technique in bounce friendly pitch. But, the good bowling was accompanied by some sloppy fielding from KXIP. Manish Pandey was dropped twice in two overs. Wriddhiman Saha, the Indian Test wicketkeeper, played a horrendous shot only to give a simple catch to Andrew Tye. It was the change of pace from the Ankit Rajpoot which got the better of Saha.
SRH batsmen were performing poorly with the bat, but fortune decided to give them some respite. All-rounder from Bangladesh Shakib Al Hasan was caught at third man on the bowling of Ankit Rajpoot. But, it was a wicket off a no-ball. SRH couldn’t find a way to cash in their luck as Shakib Al Hasan failed to capitalize after being out in an illegal delivery. He just managed to scrape 28 runs off 29 balls. It was just not meant to be enough for the player of his stature. At the other end, watching all this was Manish Pandey. Apart from some good-looking stroke, he couldn’t provide the explosion SRH needed after a horrible powerplay. He was dropped for the third time at the 17th over. Yusuf Pathan came in, scored few boundaries but it was too late for them to push for the above-par total. Manish Pandey’s role was to anchor the inning. He might have done it till the last over. However, he was disappointed with himself after the struggling knock of 54 off 51 balls. Mohammad Nabi just didn’t get enough balls make any real impact with the bat.
The chase of mere 133 runs began with the two in-form batters: KL Rahul and Chris Henry Gayle. As Hyderabad had a good pair of opening bowlers upfront, a cautious start was what KXIP openers were after. Sandeep Sharma who has had the wood over Gayle, partially did his job by keeping him silent. However, another opening bowler — in the bounce friendly pitch — was Mohammad Nabi. Both Rahul and Gayle took him to cleaners without messing around. The openers looked set in the middle. But, the story is never complete without the entry of a champion. Rashid Khan — who went for a journey in his last outing against the same team — broke the shackle with a magic delivery. Rahul as undone by a stunning leg break from young Afghani — only 19 years old (tongues out).
Chris Gayle didn’t want to spend his time in the middle after his beloved partner Rahul left him. So, he decided to walk to the pavilion after playing an ordinary pull shot 😛 But, the game just about took some twists after the wicket of Universe Boss. Quality bowling from SRH throttled the KXIP’s batting. The energy of the chase from KXIP was sapped off. KXIP batsmen were going nowhere. After the halt of good flow of runs in the innings, one of the two things was about to happen. Either there was going to be a flurry of boundaries or the cluster of wickets. The game preferred to take the latter route. Karun Nair and Mayank Agarwal were the victims of two good spin twins. The soon-to-be-Australian-captain of limited overs, Aaron Finch preferred to go with some big shots. He was successful at the first attempt but was seen stupid repeating the dose for the second time in pursuit to finish the game with some lusty blows. Manoj Tiwari and Andrew Tye couldn’t do much against brilliant Sandeep Sharma.
How can one expect bowlers to do much against the quality of SRH bowling? They could only add themselves up to the tally of bowler’s wicket. KXIP captain Ashwin and pacer Barindra Sran went swing but couldn’t find the middle of the bat. Rajpoot and Mujeeb were the last pair for KXIP. Both of them showed some fight at the end but ended up short by 13 runs. Remember, cricket might be a batsman’s game. But, it is the bowlers who win you the game.
By Sudarshan Regmi