The Indian Premier League is two matches away from crowning the 2020 champions in the UAE. The Delhi Capitals and the Sunrisers Hyderabad face off today [Sunday] in Qualifier 2 to decide the challengers for the Mumbai Indians in Tuesday’s final.
Who will be that be? Delhi or Hyderabad? Led by Shreyas Iyer, Delhi are the more talented side, but Hyderabad have the winning combination. That’s what the results show. After brilliant wins in the first half of the season, Delhi went into a tailspin. In stark contrast, Hyderabad’s horrid start gave way to thumping victories over heavyweights. They are still winning, which is why captain David Warner is beaming.
Wins put teams in the right frame of mind. The intent will be more intense, and the body language positive. And that translates into better performance, as Hyderabad will attest. The string of victories makes Hyderabad firm favourites against Delhi, who have come off a loss against Mumbai in Qualifier 1.
If talent is any yardstick, Delhi will walk away with their maiden title. Sadly, their skills have not produced the displays that win matches. Opening batsman Prithvi Shaw’s struggles mirror Delhi’s inability to rack up good scores. The early loss of wickets has piled pressure on a fragile middle-order, where Marcus Stoinis has been the lone hope. They have matchwinners in pace bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, but they have gone for runs in recent games. So Iyer has plenty of concerns.
Warner can’t complain. A side depleted by injuries, Hyderabad have punched above their weight. The victory over the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator should engender confidence in a side that’s prone to collapsing from winning positions. Much of that credit should go to Kane Williamson and Jason Holder, who have provided the steel in the middle-order.
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Hyderabad’s bowling is no longer a one-man attack. Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan remains the trump card, while Shahbaz Nadeem’s left-arm spin has been effective in the middle overs. Sandeep Sharma continues to be a menace in the powerplay, and left-arm seamer Natarajan’s sizzling yorkers in the slog overs have been the talk of IPL. The one that crashed into AB De Villiers’ middle stump is easily one of the deliveries of the tournament.
There’s been no word on the progress of injury-hit Wriddhiman Saha, the man who lit the fuse on Hyderabad’s revival. What a comeback it’s been! Even a nervy game against Bangalore have failed to stop their momentum. And that should propel them to victory. Delhi will have to be at their absolute best to prevent that. An unlikely prospect.