It is no secret that of all the teams in the competition, Sunrisers Hyderabad have one of the best bowling attacks. This was on show again, on Friday, at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad. The conditions were in favour of side the bowling first, with rain around the corner, and the conditions overcast. And, while Hyderabad bowlers got the better use of the conditions, it is equally true that they exploited the surface to near perfection. Once Hyderabad restricted the Lions to a low score, they were always favourites to win, and did so although it wasn’t easy on a sluggish surface.
The duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman was once again crucial to Hyderabad’s win. They took the pace off the ball brilliantly, and just did not allow the batsmen to get any sort of momentum on to the ball. Rahman has been a mystery for batsmen throughout the event as his awkward angles and cutters have literally embarrassed opponents. There was no answer to the Rahman riddle on Friday as well. As for Kumar, his accuracy was again his forte. Ashish Nehra supported him well. In fact, both Kumar and Nehra delivered a maiden each, which says a lot.
As for the Lions, they lost the plot early on in the innings, when they lost their big batsmen, and could never recover till the end. When the conditions are tough, Dwayne Smith often struggles. And, it was the same case on Friday, as he finished with a strike rate of 11 having faced nine balls. But, the fact that Brendon McCullum also was clueless was a clear indication of how difficult things were out there in the middle. Lions could never recover after the poor start. Lions did not help their cause by having Aaron Finch bat down the order. He got a fifty, but it was a damage control-type innings.
Skipper Suresh Raina again disappointed for the Lions. He got a start, not for the first time in the series, and even cracked a couple of sixes early in his innings. But, at a time when he needed to carry on, he departed. The early loss of the in-from Dinesh Karthik was a big blow for Lions. But, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja had a chance to make an impact. They again failed in their endeavour. The Hyderabad bowlers were too good for them, with Barinder Sran supporting the experienced pacers, and the rest too chipping in.
Things weren’t easy for Hyderabad in the chase, in spite of the small total to defend. But, Shikhar Dhawan, credibly put his foot down, and anchored the innings till the end. It was the kind of innings that shows he has matured as player in recent times. David Warner again sped away, but could not carry on to a big innings. To their credit, the Lions’ bowlers gave it all they had, with Praveen Kumar, Dhawan Kulkarni and Bravo keeping things tight. But, the batsmen had given them too few runs to defend.
--By A Cricket Analyst