Sunrisers Hyderabad flexed their batting muscles in their first Indian Premier League 2019 home engagement to justify their all-round strength and the pre-tournament assessments. Licking wounds after a surprise defeat by Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening game, they picked up the gauntlet thrown by Sanju Samson and Rajasthan Royals to secure a comfortable win.
Most sides would have found the near-200-run target daunting but with David Warner and Jonny Bairstow striking an attacking combination at the top, Sunrisers Hyderabad conveyed a sense of confidence as they started the chase. Even their departures in quick succession did not rattle the home team.
It would be customary for bowling sides to expect building pressure on their rivals when two new batsmen are at the crease. It would not be easy for these batsmen to play the dual role of preventing further inroads and of sustaining the scoring to ensure that the asking rate does not swirl to unreasonable proportions.
It is in stepping up the plate that Vijay Shankar offered the fearless thinking in the Tom Moody-coached line-up. The sixes that he hit off Dhawal Kulkarni and left-arm fast medium bowler Jaydev Unadkat’s bowling were bold statements of intent. Of course, he should have stayed on till the end but Sunrisers could bank on Yusuf Pathan and Rashid Khan to complete that process.
The power that Warner generates with his strokes have their roots in the audacity of timing, The sound that his bat generates when making contact with the cricket ball is very indicative of the hallmark of timing that sets batsmen apart. And both in Eden Gardens, Kolkata, and the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad, he has produced percussion of quality.
Bairstow, who contributed four of the first 50 runs, got more strike and broke free pretty quickly with a series of boundaries off Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and S Gopal. Bowling attacks that have to contend with Bairstow at the other end of a partnership with a marauding left-hander will constantly be wishing for at least one, if not both, to fall early.
Even if those prayers are answered, the man walking in would be the skipper Kane Williamson. He did not pull his weight on Friday night, but everyone knows how elegantly destructive the New Zealand star can be. The other batsman who can win a game on his own, Manish Pandey, fell cheaply to Gopal after the strategic time out on Friday.
No skipper would expect batsmen of such talent to be dismissed for just 15 runs between them each time. For, he would not want to risk being proven wrong by batsmen who can pile up the runs without seeming to be in a hurry in the bustling manner of a Warner.
It is just a matter of time before that seeps through the line-up. It is early days yet, but Warner has scored hectic half centuries in both games on his comeback from injury, Bairstow has forged an exciting opening partnership with him. And Vijay Shankar, who was part of the trading package with Delhi Capitals in the run up to this season, has been among the runs as well.
The all-rounder’s confidence has soared after he broke through to the Indian team in Hardik Pandya’s absence. He has carried that assurance and, with his intensity in the middle, made it to known to the opposition that his wicket would have to be earned. If he can enjoy the responsibility thrust on him and sustain his hunger through the season, it will serve him in good stead.
The addition of Vijay Shankar to the middle-order and his growing desire to make a difference to the team with his skills has only helped the team gain muscle at a time when Yusuf Pathan’s consistency could be just that bit lower than in the past. It is such might and depth that installed Sunrisers Hyderabad as one of the overwhelming favourites to make it to the play-off stage.
The strength of their batting comes as insurance for a bowler leaking runs in an over or two – as it endured on Friday evening when the redoubtable death bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded eight fours and a six in the 45 runs that he gave away in his last two overs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad were always known for the quality of their bowling and their top order batting.
The fact that their lead bowler went for plenty of runs in the death could have a demoralising impact on any team as it adjourned for the supper break. From Warner’s cavalier approach in Powerplay and Bairstow’s delight in watching the left-hander have a go at the Rajasthan Royals bowlers from across the pitch, it appeared that, if anything, Sanju Samson’s assault only inspired them both.
Teams seeking to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad will have to out-bat this formidable batting line-up. Of course, they will begin their games with the belief that they can do that but on the basis of the first two games, especially Friday’s win against Rajasthan Royals, it can be said that it would be quite something if a team manages that.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Morris' 4 for 23 helped restrict the Kolkata Knight Riders to a sub-par 133/9 before Samson struck an unbeaten 42 to guide Rajasthan Royals to a six-wicket win.
Warner was stripped of SRH captaincy on Saturday after the team lost five out of its first six matches and Williamson's elevation to the post hasn't changed the fortunes as it sufferer a 55-run defeat in the hands of Rajasthan Royals.
Sack him as captain if you must, but as a batsman David Warner's name should have been one of the first on the team sheet.