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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Indian Premier League: Lack of variety ails Sunrisers Hyderabad

Their top-order floundered against Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday resulting in a eight-wicket loss. However, they will get a second chance to make the final when they meet Rajasthan Royals — who beat RCB in the Eliminator on Wednesday — in Chennai on Friday

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 24.05.24, 07:55 AM
Rovman Powell and (right) Ravichandran Ashwin of Rajasthan Royals after winning Wednesday’s Eliminator in Ahmedabad. The Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad will play on Friday for a place in the final, against Kolkata KnightRiders.

Rovman Powell and (right) Ravichandran Ashwin of Rajasthan Royals after winning Wednesday’s Eliminator in Ahmedabad. The Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad will play on Friday for a place in the final, against Kolkata KnightRiders. Picture courtesy IPL 

Sunrisers Hyderabad has been the most explosive batting unit in IPL 2024. They wrote and rewrote the highest team total thrice with Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma leading the way.

Heinrich Klaasen’s presence in the middle-order provided further firepower. Captain Pat Cummins did throw in a bit of aggression, but Sunrisers have lacked the consistency which often led to their losing way at crucial junctures.

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Their top-order floundered against Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday resulting in a eight-wicket loss. However, they will get a second chance to make the final when they meet Rajasthan Royals — who beat RCB in the Eliminator on Wednesday — in Chennai on Friday.

Chandrima S. Bhattacharya

The Royals’ batting may not be as destructive as the Sunrisers, but they have one of the best bowling units. A left-arm pacer in Trent Boult at the top, who removed Faf du Plessis early to send RCB’s batting into disarray on Wednesday, besides two world-class spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. How the Royals batters fare against such a potent attack could decide KKR’s opponents in Sunday’s final.

With dew expected in the second innings, the teams may prefer bowling first on winning the toss. The slow Chennai wicket could also be a deciding factor since Sunrisers’ batters have always excelled on wickets where the ball has come onto the bat nicely.

The nature of the wicket could prompt the Royals to include a third spinner in Keshav Maharaj, though that could mean rejigging their overseas combination, a risk they may not be willing to take. But that they have returned to winning ways after four losses on the trot bodes well for the franchise.

“We will have some great days, we will have some really bad days. It’s important to bounce back. The way we batted, bowled and fielded, I am really happy,” said captain Sanju Samson. “We have the momentum now, so the dressing room is confident.”

Sunrisers’ problems lie in not having quality spinners. Mayank Markande is mediocre at best and Shahbaz Ahmed’s primary skill seems to be willow-wielding, not bo­wling slow left-arm orthodox tweakers. Even on a slow surface, they will have to depend on Cummins, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and T. Natarajan.

An inconsistent batting and Yashasvi Jaiswal’s form have been Royals’ big problem. The opener has hardly made a mark in this edition though he has a century to his credit. The absence of Jos Buttler is showing in their performance.

Rovman Powell and Shimron Hetmyer looked in good touch against RCB in the Eliminator though the line-up seemed to panic in the closing stages of a knockout match.

But Riyan Parag has been a revelation. The youngster is just 33 short of 600 runs in IPL 2024, while Samson (521) is also the sixth-highest run-scorer.

Ashwin, who has played much of his cricket at the Chepauk, knows the condit­ions well and how well the Royals tackle him could be crucial.

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