About four months ago, Jason Holder earned plaudits from all corners for a special performance. Leading West Indies in the first match after cricket’s coronavirus-forced break, he starred with a six-wicket haul to help his team notch-up a memorable Test victory in England.
That performance took Holder to a career-high ranking of No 2 in the Test bowlers list and helped him retain his spot as the top-ranked all-rounder. His accuracy with the ball and composure with the bat, away from home against a formidable opponent, showed yet again that he was an invaluable asset in the longest format.
And in the Indian Premier League on Friday, Holder showed he can be just as effective in T20 cricket too by serving a reminder of his incredible versatility as a cricketer. The 29-year-old made key contributions with both bat and ball to help Sunrisers Hyderabad defeat Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets in the Eliminator.
At this point, it seems baffling to think that Holder wasn’t part of the Sunrisers squad at the start of IPL 2020. He was drafted in after Australia’s Mitchell Marsh injured himself in SRH’s opener and was forced to head back home. But it wasn’t until Hyderabad’s 10th game of the season that Holder finally got to take the field in the UAE.
And the all-rounder wasted little time in showing just how impactful he can be. In the six matches he has played so far, SRH have emerged victorious on five occasions. The men in orange had lost the last three matches before Holder’s inclusion but as of now, they’re on a four-match winning streak. During this period, they defeated both Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians – the other two remaining teams in the tournament.
Here’s a look at Holder’s performances so far in IPL 2020:
3/33 vs Rajasthan Royals
2/27, 5 vs Kings XI Punjab
1/46 vs Delhi Capitals
2/27, 26* vs RCB (finished the run-chase)
2/25 vs Mumbai Indians
3/25, 24* vs RCB (finished the run-chase)
And here’s a look at Holder’s overall stats so far in IPL 2020:
Matches played: 6
Batting SR: 144.73
Run-chases finished: 2
Overs bowled: 24
Wickets taken: 13
Bowling SR: 11.07
Bowling Ave: 14.07
Bowling ER: 7.62
Against RCB on Friday, Holder delivered each time SRH needed him. His first big contribution came with his second delivery after he was handed the new ball. Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli promoted himself to open the innings but the move failed as he nicked one off Holder down the leg side. The right-arm medium-pacer hadn’t bowled the most remarkable ball but it was enough to give his team a massive edge early on in the match.
Holder then struck in his second over by removing the in-form Devdutt Padikkal. The West Indies all-rounder bowled two overs first up, got rid of the RCB openers, and conceded just nine runs to put Sunrisers on course.
He then returned to the attack in the 16th over and struck again. This time it was Shivam Dube who was foxed by a slower delivery. The left-hander had added 37 runs for the fifth wicket along with AB de Villiers but just as RCB were setting themselves up for a big finish, Holder stole their momentum.
His phenomenal figures of 3/25 from four overs played a key role in Hyderabad restricting Bangalore to a paltry 131/7.
But Holder was needed by SRH with the bat too. And again, he didn’t disappoint. When Priyam Garg was dismissed in the 12th over, the Sunrisers needed 55 runs to win from 49 balls with six wickets in hand. It wasn’t the most daunting task but with RCB fired-up and the pressure of a big match, things could’ve gone south quickly for David Warner’s team.
However, two of the coolest customers in world cricket came together to put on a masterful chase. Holder, along with Kane Williamson, never panicked and remained unbeaten to bag the win. While the New Zealand star scored 50 off 44, with the help of some delightful strokes, to claim the player of the match award, Holder played his part to perfection by keeping the scoreboard ticking.
And in the final over, after a swing and a miss and with eight runs needed to win off four balls, Holder didn’t try to attempt a slog but picked consecutive fours on the off side with front-foot drives.
Both Holder and Williamson are captains for their respective countries and the maturity with which they went about their business was remarkable to watch.
“I’ve just had more over in the nets,” said Holder after Friday’s game in Abu Dhabi. “Had a few injuries in the last couple of years that really hampered my preparations. I had a bad shoulder and surgery in my elbow too. So it’s good to have the body in strong shape. I’ve been able to work hard at practice, fine-tune my skills. I think I’m in a really good space at the moment. I think deeply about execution, which is all about having a clear mind and being calm under pressure.”
As Holder stated himself, the thing that he brings to SRH is calmness... the assurance of a big player. With the ball, he executes his role smartly and provides stability in the powerplay. And with the bat, he brings the experience and levelheadedness his team has needed in the lower order all through the season.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are peaking at the perfect time and are in the middle of an incredible run. The 2016 IPL champions have won four matches on the trot and will now face Delhi Capitals, a team they have defeated twice this season, in Qualifier 2. And just like Holder, they’ll be quietly confident of getting the job done.