Sunrisers Hyderabad gave themselves reasons to be happy with their visit to Delhi, not the least being their bowling unit’s success for the second time in four games. More than bowling out Royal Challengers Bangalore for 113 in Hyderabad, they would be pleased at having kept the formidable Delhi Capitals to 129 for eight on a track that did not support pace or bounce on Thursday.
Clearly, the home team’s management was caught napping by the pitch. But in reading the nature of the strip, picking the right bowlers and executing the plans made for each home batsman that the Sunrisers Hyderabad attack walked away with a lot of credit. If they can replicate the intensity and the accuracy in following the ideas, the Hyderabad attack would remain a handful for all teams.
Of course, the first two outings this season on flat decks in Kolkata and Hyderabad were not the most memorable. Sunrisers Hyderabad claimed but six wickets and conceded a whopping 381 runs in these two games. Worse, their bowling spearhead, Bhuvneshwar Kumar seemed to have gone off the boil, unable to find the magical rhythm and control that makes him such a feared bowler.
Therefore, his first wickets of the IPL season came as a relief not only to the Sunrisers Hyderabad but also to all those who were worried that he had not been able to exercise the control that he had become famous for. His rediscovery of his wonted rhythm has to be the biggest gain for the side on their trip to Delhi.
He was unlucky when Prithvi Shaw edged through slip for the second of his two fours in the opening over but was able to exact revenge when he sent the teen opener’s off-stump for a fairly long walk with a length ball that crept under the swishing blade. The sight of the stump doing a cartwheel was the sort of spectacle that would lift a quick bowler’s confidence sky-high.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar completed his quota with overs in the middle and the death. He first stifled Shreyas Iyer enough for the Delhi Capitals skipper to try and chance his arm against Rashid Khan in the following over and gift his wicket away. The Sunrisers Hyderabad captain’s 19th over was eventful – he outfoxed Chris Morris and saw Kagiso Rabada being dropped by Sandeep Sharma.
Then again, it would be simplifying things too much if the focus is only on the Indian spearhead. For, the contributions by the others in the attack – Sandeep Sharma and Siddharth Kaul who form a trio of Indian swing and seam bowlers as well as Afghanistan spin twins Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan.
Mohammad Nabi’s contribution with the cricket ball was immense. The off-spinner, choosing to bowl from round the wicket, kept the left-handers quiet with his simple, classical approach. He induced a sweep by Shikhar Dhawan who only managed to top-edge a catch to short fine-leg. Nabi returned after the enforced strategic break to see Rishabh Pant’s back.
The Afghanistan skipper now has six wickets from the two games he has played and may have nudged ahead of the team’s left-arm spinners, Bangladesh import Shakib Al-Hasan and Shahbaz Nadeem. Of course, the side may have to play Shakib Al Hasan when squaring up against teams that do not have as many left-handed batsmen as Delhi Capitals.
Be that as it may, each of the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers could be proud of his contribution to the team’s victory. The economical leg-spinner Rashid Khan claimed one wicket but it was that of Shreyas Iyer, the best of the home batsmen on Thursday night. Sandeep Sharma and Siddharth Kaul ensured that there would be no let-up of pressure on the Delhi Capitals middle-order batsmen.
You could see the smiles adorning the faces of the Sunrisers Hyderabad think tank, watching from the dug-out, get wider with each wicket that fell after Pant’s fall in the 10th over. The Delhi Capitals went on a rapid downward spiral on a track that demanded a great deal of concentration and skill from the batsmen and the visiting team’s bowlers added much more to their challenges.
The coming together of the attack augurs well for Sunrisers Hyderabad, given that the top-order batting might undergo some change at some point in the season. David Warner and Jonny Bairstow may have to return to Australia and England ahead of their commitments with their respective national teams, but the undisturbed bowling unit can win games on their own.
Though the design of the Twenty20 format appears to lean towards batsmen – and their ability to pierce fields and clear the fence – bowling units like the one Sunrisers Hyderabad possesses can powerfully force the spotlight to be trained on them. Even a standout innings by Bairstow, earning him the adjudicator’s nod and the man of the match award, would take the backseat to such smart bowling.