SRH vs MI, target 151: Need 31 runs from 24 balls with 5 wickets in hand.
Result: MI won by 13 runs
SRH vs RCB, target 150: Need 35 runs from 24 balls with 8 wickets in hand.
Result: RCB win by 6 runs
Two games, two similar chases and two results that the Sunrisers Hyderabad will not like at all. For the first time in their history, SRH have lost three out of three games to start the season and it places them at a huge disadvantage going forward.
To be clear, the Chennai pitch doesn’t make hitting the big shots easy. The odd ball sticks, some have extra bounce and if the bowlers don’t bowl it in the slot, it is difficult to score the big runs quickly. But it is possible to bat and bat well – as Kieron Pollard showed in the MI innings – if you are prepared to wait for the right ball.
But SRH weren’t. In both games, they gave themselves an excellent platform to start their chase.
vs MI: After 10 overs, SRH were 77, 8 wickets in hand
vs RCB: After 10 overs, SRH were 73, 9 wickets in hand
If they had been smarter, they would have found a way to put the pressure back on the opposition. But instead, their inexperienced order takes on all the pressure and then succumbs.
For the second match running, SRH skipper David Warner was angry. He couldn’t quite fathom what is happening in the middle.
“I don’t know how to take that,” said Warner after the loss. “Two of us got set, my run out, Jonny stepping on his wickets, and false shots in the middle proved that if you don’t have two guys at the end, you don’t win. These scores are very chaseable, it’s just poor batting. If you get a partnership and have one guy at the end, you can chase down 150 easily. You just need smart cricket in the middle, we aren’t doing that.”
Warner added: “I think our bowlers adapted well to this wicket, it’s slower than the ones we played on earlier. We’ve got to learn from the mistakes and right now it’s just the batsmen. We’ve got to take responsibility. Got to move forward, put some smiles on our faces.”
Missing middle order
The obvious problem for SRH is the missing middle order. Against MI, they picked Abhishek Sharma, Virat Singh and Abdul Samad in the playing XI. All talented batsmen and good hitters but they are not experienced and they don’t quite know what to do when put under pressure.
Vijay Shankar has been around for a while too but when you look at this SRH line-up, you can’t help but wonder: Who is the finisher?
MI, for instance, had Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya and they needed one player to fire. And one did. RCB has AB de Villiers coming down the order but who does SRH have?
The quality of Warner and Bairstow at the top of the order is clear but the moment Warner gets out, the SRH batting seems to lose direction too. As and when Kane Williamson is fit again, his presence will give the rest of the batting a huge boost but for now, SRH might have missed a trick by not playing Kedar Jadhav.
Jadhav was not in the best form for CSK last season but this is a new season and this is a venue he knows well. His spin bowling could have been handy and he knows how to play on such wickets.
Mohammad Nabi (a career SR of 145.45 in the IPL) has a knack of hitting the big shots as well and he too has been around for a while. It is admittedly slim pickings but these are just about the only options SRH really have. Pick up the experienced pros, then push Samad into the mix and hope something clicks.
It is still early days in IPL 2021 but SRH have always been a steady side. Now, they find themselves in a situation where they need to go on a winning streak just to even things out. One win would greatly settle nerves in the SRH camp but that is proving to be much more difficult to come by than most in SRH would have imagined.