The Sunrisers Hyderabad thrive in adversity. Every time they suffer a terrible loss, they have bounced with superb wins to keep their IPL 2020 campaign on track. So when their chase of a place in the last four is at risk of derailing, Hyderabad went back to the drawing board, did some deep thinking, redrew their strategy and worked out a new combination. The result was a rousing victory over the Delhi Capitals that keeps alive their qualification prospects.
Hyderabad didn’t have it easy in Season 13. In their first match, allrounder Mitchell Marsh limped off the field before completing his first over. The Australian was ruled out of the rest of the tournament. A few games later, their spearhead Bhuvaneshwar Kumar walked away, unable to complete his over at the death. He too won’t return this year. That left the Hyderabad attack in the hands of some youngsters, but they had the best leg-spinner in the world: Rashid Khan of Afghanistan.
When West Indies captain Jason Holder replaced Marsh as the allrounder, it brought more balance to the team. But it upset the overseas quota. Kane Williamson’s presence is crucial for the stability of the middle-order. Hyderabad learned that the hard way, having lost matches from winning positions. So something’s got to give. Jonny Bairstow, one of their leading scorers, had to be sacrificed. That turned out to be a winning gamble.
A gamble that allowed Wriddhiman Saha to turn in a matchwinning knock in only his second game this year. His 87 (45 balls) and the 109-run opening stand with skipper David Warner (66 off 34) set up a Hyderabad victory, as leggie Khan’s three wickets, including a double strike in an over, ensured no comebacks for Delhi.
One down, and two to go. That’s the equation for Hyderabad. And the worry too. For, they haven’t been able to stay on the winning track for too long. But now, they can’t afford another loss. A slip-up, and it’s curtains for them.
While Hyderabad resurrected their chances, Delhi are faced with the possibility of an exit. That’s a colossal climbdown for a talented bunch who have the potential to fetch the maiden title for Delhi. They face the top two teams in the points table: Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. If they don’t win at least one of the games, Delhi risk ouster as three other teams can join them at 14 points. And Shreyas Iyer’s side have the worst run rate.
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Iyer put on a brave face in the post-match interview on Tuesday. But the three losses in a row would undoubtedly worry him. It’s not easy to pick up after a string of losses. And bad batting has been the leading cause of their failures. Opener Prithvi Shaw’s poor form and Shikhar Dhawan’s two flops exposed the fragility of the middle-order where Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmeyer and Marcus Stoinis have struggled recently, leading to uncharacteristic losses.
Kagiso Rabada had a poor outing, but the third seamer slot is still a concern. Tushar Deshpande hasn’t been effective, and Harshal Patel could be better of the two. Delhi have to do what Hyderabad did. Deep introspection and a change in approach and personnel may be required to revive them.