Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug. Saturday was a bug kind of day for IPL's leading wicket-taker and purple cap holder for the 2017 season, Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He ran in to the MS Dhoni windshield, with 30 runs required off 12 balls, being taken for 19 runs in the 19th over of the match and despite Siddharth Kaul's best efforts in the 20th, Sunrisers Hyderabad were left winless on the road this season.
Two matches earlier, this one in the comfortable environs of their home ground in Hyderabad, SRH — mainly through Bhuvi — held off the late charge by Manan Vohra of Kings XI Punjab and scraped home. Faced with a more daunting task of only 16 runs required in two overs, Bhuvi took two wickets in the 19th over including that of the rampaging Vohra while conceding just five runs and set the table up for Kaul to knock over Ishant Sharma in the 20th over.
But KXIP had lost far too many wickets by the time the last two overs of the game came around. It was just a question of Vohra's wicket and Bhuvi delivered. Whereas in Pune, even as he removed Ben Stokes in the 17th over, SRH were left to swim against the tide of Dhoni and the in-form Manoj Tiwary. Dhoni reprised the late-innings fireworks that made him a household name in the cricketing world and even though Bhuvi bowled as well as he could have planned, he could not secure the game for his side. Some days you just are the bug, and there is really nothing you can do about it.
To reiterate the point, Bhuvi who had been acing death overs bowling in T20s the last couple of seasons, had not conceded more than 10 runs in any of the death overs this season before today. In all, he has bowled 80 deliveries in the closing stages of the innings in 2017 season and has been taken for 90 runs. That's nearly 20% of all the runs he has given away in the business end of the innings this season.
It is easy to point to the wretched day it turned out to be for Bhuvi as the reason for SRH's loss but they fell behind the eight-ball in their batting innings. Without Yuvraj in the middle order, David Warner had to be cautious early on and SRH crawled to 65/1 in their first 10 overs, with just 45 in the powerplay. Cricket writer Kartikeya Date has developed a system to monitor the progress of the two teams in a T20 game and is available for all to see on his website. The “Match Progress” provides information based on the (historical) median totals achieved by a team which loses wickets in the way that the teams in a given game have respectively lost.
The figure below shows the progress of SRH (orange dot) and RPS (blue dot) in their respective batting innings, as related to the historical median of runs scored by teams in every over of the innings based on the number of wickets they had lost at that point. Since SRH had lost only one wicket for majority of their innings, they needed to push on a lot more and lot earlier than they eventually did. While the late flourish from Moises Henriques made up for the earlier slack, it wasn't enough, as SRH finished only six runs above par, which RPS were able to chase down against a far superior SRH bowling unit. As can be seen, SRH were way below par between overs eight and 16, and that really dented their chances of winning the game a lot more than their bowling. Their bowlers controlled the Pune batsmen more or less throughout the game. RPS were only expected to score 158 in reply by the model but then, Dhoni intervened.
The expected win percent row in the figure tells an intriguing story. Even with their 176 runs on the board and early wickets, SRH never were favorites to win the match, reaching the highest probability of 47% in the 7th over of RPS innings, and were worse than 1-4 odds to win with RPS needing 30 runs in two overs. The number of wickets in hand is the only thing that really mattered, as also indicated by the results of this match and the earlier one vs KXIP.
So where do SRH go from here? They need to make better use of Henriques' bowling abilities. He bowled just one over for four runs and wasn't given the ball again in this match. If it is a choice between a middle order hitter or a bowler, SRH would be wise to side with the hitter, as the hitter has more direct influence on larger percentage of the match than a bowler. By playing an extra batsman would also allow Warner to attack at the top of the order with a bit more freedom. They could bench any of the three — Bipul Sharma, Mohammad Siraj and Siddharth Kaul — and include a hitter, and delegate more bowling responsibilities to Henriques, and that would serve them better as the season crosses the mid-way point.
Despite not having their best possible XI and their top order not making much noise, and their best death bowler having a “bug day”, SRH came mighty close to sealing the game. That should give them confidence as they make a push for the playoffs.
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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2017 13:14:04 IST