Dubai: It finally took Sunrisers Hyderabad 10 matches to attain a level of well-rounded performance during their emphatic win against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. The crucial two points which David Warner & Co gained not only catapulted them to fifth spot, but the match also provided some pointers as solutions to some of their festering problems.
If consistency had been one of the hallmarks of Sunrisers’ campaign over the years - despite often lacking in the so-called star power - it was sorely lacking in their campaign this season and an injury to their attacking lynchpin Bhubaneshwar Kumar has not helped matters either. One of the best death bowlers in world cricket, ‘Bhuvi’ had been a key factor behind the team’s success-rate in often defending smaller totals - and his absence has put enormous pressure on Rashid Khan for containing the run-flow as well as taking wickets.
This is an area where Trevor Bayliss & Co may have found a new direction in Thursday’s game with the way Jason Holder acquitted himself quickly and also Vijay Shankar coming up as a handy solution in bowling the middle overs. The Test captain of West Indies, a world class albeit often under-rated allrounder, had to wait for his first game too long as the Sunrisers’ quota of four overseas players had been wateright with Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan. Originally brought in as a replacement for injured allrounder Mitchell Marsh, his kind of pace bowling would suit the wickets here while Holder can fill in the hole in the middle order batting - which has often created a problem for the Orange Army this year.
Shankar, who redeemed himself first with the ball and then bat, had been subjected to a fair amount of criticism since his surprise inclusion as a potential No.4 batsman for India in last year’s ICC World Cup. His unbeaten 52, peppered with some pleasing cricketing shots like the two lofted cover drives, reflected a welcome maturity during the unbroken 140-run partnership which he had with Manish Pandey - which incidentally was the highest partnership by an Indian pair for Sunrisers.
Talking of Pandey, he is a proven customer who does not often get his due in the crowd of India’s batting stars in white ball cricket. Now 31, he has had a stellar IPL career and not too many fans would care to remember that he was the first Indian centurion in the league way back in 2009. Talk about making use of field restrictions in power play or masterminding a chase, Pandey can be an asset for any team - not to speak of his lightning quick reflexes in the field.
Suddenly, the Sunrisers look a good bet to push for the fourth spot in the play-offs now!