It is amazing what a good summer can do to a team. Watching the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday was like having a ringside seat to the practiced maneuvers of a mean mercenary baying for the blood of an opponent. With MS Dhoni and Thisara Perera at the crease, 42 off four overs wasn't insurmountable for the Rising Pune Supergiants. But the control and intellect by the bowling unit and the energy of their captain helped the Sunrisers strangulate the Supergiants and eke out a thrilling victory.
Adam Zampa may have been forgiven to think that he had done enough to help his team win, when he led them off the field at the half-way stage. The young leg-spinner spun his way to the second best spell ever in the IPL, a 6-19 that included three dismissals in the final over of the innings. In a format that allows a bowler just four overs, it was an accomplishment that should have been more than enough to influence the match outcome.
But then, cricket isn't about individual excellence; it is a team game where collective strength trumps singular brilliance, almost every single time. Zampa may have been outstanding, but the Sunrisers have grown into a lethal unit. The strength of David Warner's imposing batting, the magic of Mustafizur and the dependability of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra have lifted this team to new heights. Add to this the agility and confidence of Yuvraj Singh and Naman Ojha — who proved his calibre with a spectacular diving catch — and their intense commitment to each other on the field. Warner has allowed his players to express themselves with freedom, and they are beginning to flourish as a team that has finally discovered its soul.
Shikhar Dhawan's form and Barinder Sran's steady bowling are also indicative of a team that has come together to rise each other's standards. Take the intense look in Yuvraj's eyes after he uprooted the stumps to run Dhoni out; this offered a glimpse into the fire that is fueling the resurgence of the team from Hyderabad.
The contagious enthusiasm with which Warner punches the air midway through a heady leap off the ground, every time the team makes a vital breakthrough, has spread through the ranks like a Californian wildfire. The brilliance of the bowling unit and the consistency at the top of their batting line-up has been discussed often during this IPL.
But it is the collective might of this team that is propelling them forward in a season that has been nothing less than transformational for the Sunrisers. Whether it is the challenge of communicating with a player that speaks neither Hindi nor English (Musatfizur), or the relative inexperience of a bowler (Barinder Sran) — the Sunrisers have allowed nothing to come in the way of their stirring revival.
The thrilling last gasp victory over the Supergiants has catapulted the Sunrisers to the top of the IPL points table. A net run rate of +0.558 is the best in the league at this stage and though they are tied with Gujarat Lions on 14 points, they have a game on hand.
The team is back in Hyderabad ahead of their clash against the Delhi Daredevils on Thursday. It will be their final game at home this season, before they travel for away games against Kings XI Punjab, Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders.
A couple of wins should do the trick for them, but this is a team with an ambition that clearly goes beyond just reaching the knock-out stages of the ninth IPL.
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Updated Date: May 11, 2016 14:21:22 IST