Too much of a good thing can hurt at times. Sunrisers Hyderabad learnt this lesson with a bitter defeat at the hands of Delhi Daredevils, and they lost from a position of strength. At 51-0 after the powerplay overs, Sunrisers seemed set for another commanding performance. But sport does not suffer being taken for granted. And the table-toppers' fluent run of victories came to a stuttering halt in the face a determined and collective effort from the visitors.
A couple of things stood out from the Sunrisers' perspective. David Warner passed 500 runs but his departure after yet another meaty innings left the hosts groping for runs for the rest of the innings. The last seven overs yielded just 45 runs, inexplicable considering they were 98-2 after 13 overs.
The second aspect was the dismantling of Mustafizur Rahman. The young Bangladeshi has been living on a pedestal after some brilliant performances this season. But Rishabh Pant plundered the miserly left-arm seamer, taking 26 runs off just 13 balls.
There is nothing unusual about defeat in sport, but the manner in which Sunrisers lost their battle to the Daredevils must cause some dismay to Tom Moody and his team of eminent back room managers. Under conditions that were challenging, the middle-order failed to show either application or intuition needed to deal with a two-paced track. The result was a tame innings that failed to translate a solid start into a meaningful total. The departure of Warner resulted immediately in a degeneration of sorts — as batsmen followed one another in an ugly procession.
With the exception of Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson, not a single batsman seemed to make any effort to impose themselves at the crease. The wicket was far from treacherous and the Delhi batsmen proved it through their commanding response late into the night.
Sunrisers tried everything possible to defend their fort, bowling seven different players, including Yuvraj Singh and Deepak Hooda. But it was all in vain as Sanju Samson and Pant plundered at will to finish the match with plenty to spare in the tank.
The defeat might yet prove useful to the Sunrisers, who have hitherto been comforted by the consistency of their top order and the combined prowess of their bowlers. They have three matches left now and each of those contests will be played on enemy territory.
As we approach the end game, Sunrisers will need to draw from the lessons of this defeat. They have been solid for much of this campaign, but they have been playing mostly on the front foot. Greater success will demand stronger commitment and the middle-order will need to step up to the plate a little more often. They need at least one victory to secure their spot in the play-offs, but they would like more just to control their destiny a little better in terms of the quality of their opponent in the knock-out phase.
They next face Kings XI Punjab, a team with no further aspirations in this IPL except pride. That should make them dangerous opponents, especially inside the PCA Stadium in Chandigarh. There is also another encounter with the Daredevils, before they wrap up the league phase against the Kolkata Knight Riders. There are five teams at the top of the league table, all within two points of each other, with Sunrisers and Gujarat Lions at the top with 14 points each. Royal Challengers Bangalore too can still salvage this campaign if they can win all their remaining matches. Interesting days lay ahead, but Sunrisers can simplify their own life if they nail victory against the Kings on Sunday.
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Updated Date: May 13, 2016 11:24:38 IST