For regular IPL watchers, the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s win over the Mumbai Indians won’t be a surprise. For, they have been qualifying for the playoffs for the last four years, and didn’t seem keen to miss it this year.
True, several results in IPL 2020 didn’t go Hyderabad’s way. But they bounced back from each setback with renewed vigour. Things didn’t go well for them from the start. Mitchell Marsh hobbled off the in the first game. A few games later their bowling spearhead Bhuvaneshwar Kumar limped out of the tournament. Undeterred, Hyderabad’s thin bowling resources pulled together and found matchwinners in each match.
On Tuesday, every player performed admirably under pressure. Young Abdul Samad patrolled the cover region with alacrity. Seamer Sandeep Sharma shrugged off early punishment to prise out Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma and in-form opener Quinton de Kock in the powerplay. Spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Rashid Khan broke the middle-order before Kieron Pollard’s lusty hitting at the death gave Mumbai a fighting total. That total was inadequate as Warner (85 off 58), and Wriddhiman Saha (58 off 45) ran riot.
It was Hyderabad’s best show in IPL 2020. That came while they were teetering on the brink of elimination. And what a show that was! Mumbai may not have fielded their best team, but even their depleted team can be a handful. So that takes nothing away from Hyderabad’s victory. They fought hard and won. A place in the playoffs is a just reward.
Much of the credit should go to David Warner. Hyderabad have been a significant force since Warner took over the captaincy. They didn’t qualify in 2015, the first year of the Warner captaincy, but the following year Hyderabad were crowned champions. In 2018, Kane Williamson led in the absence of Warner and Hyderabad were beaten in the final. They lost in the eliminators in 2017 and 2019. So, they have been making the last-four since their maiden win in 2016. That’s how consistent they have been.
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But consistency hasn’t been their forte this year. They lost some matches from winning positions, and question marks hung over their mental toughness. They answered the doubters with a sensational win against massive odds on Tuesday. If there’s a prize for tenacity, Hyderabad will win it hands down.
Now that they are in the playoffs, Hyderabad will need more than tenacity to win games. They have shown the ability to tussle with the best and win. If they can replicate the giant-slaying acts, Warner will be grinning from ear to ear.