Sandeep Sharma, Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer, conceded that dew played a massive part in the team’s defeat against Kings XI Punjab on Monday (April 8). Put in to bat on a sluggish Mohali wicket, the visitors managed to post only 150, a total that was chased down by KXIP with 6 wickets in hand.
Even as KXIP overhauled the target with only a ball to spare, they looked in little discomfort, courtesy a 114-run stand between KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, both of whom scored half-centuries, for the second wicket.
“It had rained this morning, so the wicket had a bit of moisture, it was a bit sticky,” Sandeep said in the post-match press conference. “Batting was tough because of that. We thought we would revise the total and batted accordingly. But in the end, dew was a big factor. There was a lot of dew and the entire ground was wet, the ball was getting wet. Due to this batting became easier in the second half than the first half.”
For Hyderabad, while David Warner continued his good form and stroked a half-century, carrying his bat through the 20 overs for a 62-ball 70, it was yet another middle order failure which kept them to a low score. Deepak Hooda, who has been below par this season as well, though, hit two fours and a six in his three-ball cameo to provide some late flourish.
However, Sandeep defended the display of the middle order and said that they will come good as the tournament progresses. “Not many (of the middle order batsmen) got the chance in the first few matches because they (Warner and Bairstow) were batting most of the time and registered three hundred-run partnerships.
“Even if you observe today’s game, the middle order didn’t play a big role, Warner batted through. The middle order hasn’t yet had a role to play. It was only in the previous game when the middle order collapsed. So you can’t form opinions based on one game or be too concerned with it. We have plenty of talented batsmen in our middle order who are also experienced – like Yusuf Pathan, Nabi, and talented batsmen like Hooda and Manish Pandey. So we have the blend of experience and youth. I have the belief that they’ll perform well going forward in the tournament. There are plenty of matches left, the tournament is not even halfway done.”
Much of Punjab’s success also lied in their ability to keep Warner quiet for long periods of time. The destructive southpaw, having lost his opening partner Jonny Bairstow early, managed to hit only six boundaries and a six through the course of his innings. Explaining the plan against the in-form duo, Ankit Rajpoot, KXIP pacer, said, “We were keen on capitalising on their weak points as all teams would do against the opposition batsmen. I did the same against them. I did not give David Warner a lot of room to play shots, especially in his scoring areas. We ensured that we had blocked their runs. That was my plan.”
Rajpoot, who returned to the side after missing out five games in between, returned figures of 4-0-21-0. Explaining the reason behind his inclusion, he said, “The ground and the wicket was a little helpful. As I can swing the ball, I was given the responsibility up front with confidence instilled in me that I can bowl well here. If I could have taken wickets, it would have been much better for me. There was a specific plan, considering that the other wickets that we played on were either flat or slow pitches, wherein it wasn’t possibly as helpful. Here, on the other hand, we got a green track and hence I got my opportunity.”
However, Sandeep believes, what worked in favour of the KXIP bowlers was negated by the dew factor by the Sunrisers came out to defend the total. Even as Rashid Khan continued to trouble the batsmen with his bag of tricks and returned conceding only 20 runs from his quota of overs, Mohammad Nabi had an outing to forget. The Afghanistan offie, who had impressive till then in the tournament, became the targeted bowler as he leaked 42 runs from 3.5 overs.
“There are two swing bowlers in our team – Bhuvneshwar and me – and our plan was to use the swing with the new ball to try and pick up wickets,” Sandeep said. “But, as I said earlier, dew became a factor in the latter half and the new ball became wet and heavy, and stopped aiding swing. As the match progressed we tried to stay in the game, tried to pick up wickets but at the end of the day KL (Rahul) played a very good innings and won them the game.
“The pressure is on the bowlers to defend when there are low totals. Our bowling attack is very experienced, we have played a lot of matches – international or in the Indian T20 League. So they know how to handle the pressure – be it Nabi, Rashid, Bhuvneshwar, Siddarth or myself. We have played enough matches and have played in this kind of situation plenty of times. So that helps us. Obviously if less runs are scored… it’s a team game. One one occasion we conceded 200 and our batting unit chased it down. And our batting unit achieved 232 once. So it’s a team game, sometimes the bowling flops and sometimes the bat.”
Sunrisers now head on a five-day break before their next game – back-to-back encounters at home. With two defeats in th last two encounters, they have slipped down to the fourth spot on the points table. There are several issues that will require fixing as they take a brief pause.
“As a group we need to back ourselves,” Sandeep added. “The players whose performance wasn’t up to the mark, to back them and win the match. We weren’t able to do that in the last two matches but obviously our focus will be on that. We have a break of five days, we’ll try to rectify our mistakes and hopefully come back stronger in the next game.”