Further the 14th season unravels, the deeper the problem grows for Sunrisers Hyderabad. On Wednesday, SRH, the 2016 champions and one of the most consistent teams in IPL over the last couple of years, have languished to the bottom of the table with a solitary win from six games, after suffering a seven-wicket defeat against Chennai Super Kings in New Delhi.
SRH's conservative approach in the middle overs
In six matches so far, Sunrisers Hyderabad have lost less than two wickets per game in the middle overs (7 to 16), the dismissal rate being the least among all eight teams in IPL 2021. Yet, they have registered a collective strike rate of 110, the least among all eight teams, and a boundary rate of 10 balls, the most this season in the middle overs.
Wednesday game was another glimpse of their conservative approach in the middle overs, where they scored 82 runs with just seven boundaries, for no loss of wickets. Sunrisers had two well-set batsmen at the crease - Warner on 55 off 51 and Pandey on 52 off 40 at the end of the middle overs, yet 121/1 at the start of the slog overs seemed to less a score.
Pandey later admitted the same, while acknowledging Kane Williamson's quickfire knock in reviving SRH. " We were looking at 180 but we were a bit slow in the middle. We are about 8-9 runs short but the way Kane played in the end, he was brilliant. We have a good bowling attack, so will try and win this game for us. It was a little different wicket and was slow to start," he said at the end of their innings.
The impact was illustrated by the two blistering half-centuries scored by Chennai's openers en route to their 129-run stand off 78 balls. CSK eventually chased down the target with nine balls to spare.
A disappointed Warner, not mincing on his words, later said," I take full responsibility for the way I batted, it was really slow, found a lot of fielders and I got frustrated. The way Manish batted was exceptional. Kane got us to a respectable total, but I take full responsibility as it was a total below par. I probably hit 15 good shots to the fielders, I couldn't do much about it. They are the ones that make or break your innings. It gets frustrating as a batsman when you find the fielders."
Kane Williamson's adaptability in T20 cricket
Batting in T20 has always been about aggression, risk-taking, and boundary hitting emphasised through metrics like strike rate and boundary rate hence ruling out the conservative approach in Test cricket and even ODIs. Kane Williamson has been one of those classical batters, hailed for their approach in the longer formats, but found it difficult to fit into the first preferred XI of a T20 team. But it was all until 2018.
Despite scoring a decent amount of runs each year in the T20 format, Williamson had found it difficult to up his strike rate, registering figures of 114.8 in 2015, 113.3 in 2016, and 118.2 in 2017. But in 2018, Williamson looked different in the format, took more risk, and adapted to T20's style in top-class fashion, scoring over 1000 runs that year at a strike rate of 144. It was the same year when he scored scoring 735 runs at an average of 52.50 and a strike rate of 142 in IPL to guide SRH to the final. In 52 matches since 2018, Williamson has scored 1708 runs at a strike rate 138.5.
On Wednesday, Williamson walked in at the start of the 18th over. One would have generally expected Jagadeesha Suchith to walk in next after the fabulous stroke-playing glimpse he had shown in the previous game. But Williamson entertained with a fiery cameo knock of 26 runs off 10 balls with 4 boundaries and a six that powered SRH from 128/2 in 17.1 overs to 171 for three at the end of 20 over.
Too much pressure on Rashid Khan
In the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who missed the last two games owing to an injury, and T Natarajan, who has been ruled out of the entire season, SRH have lacked wicket-taking bowlers in the lineup. Rashid has picked four wickets in the last two games conceding 8.37 runs per over. The remaining bowlers have picked only two wickets while conceding 8.8 runs per over.