Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, went against the trend to become the first team to opt to bat first in IPL 2021. Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers restricted them to 150 for five. Although they had successfully defended 152 against Kolkata Knight Riders in their previous game, Jonny Bairstow's blitzkrieg knock threatened to take the game away before the five-time IPL winners bounced back in a crafty fashion. Rahul Chahar orchestrated SRH's collapse with his three-fer after the opening pair's dismissal while Jasprit Bumrah bowled without being hit for a boundary as SRH fell 13 runs short of the target.
How Vijay Shankar's change of pace restricted MI in the middle overs?
Feeding off the pace of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed, Mumbai Indians opener Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock soared to a 53-run stand at the end of the PowerPlay. De Kock started off the innings with a boundary against Bhuvneshwar and ended the over with another. Khaleel was introduced in the next over to counter Rohit's vulnerability against left-arm pace, but the skipper capitalised on the left-armer's toothless deliveries to smash him for a boundary.
Shankar, brought in immediately after the PowerPlay, dismissed Rohit in just his third ball. Lack of pace was the key on the Chennai track and Shankar adhered to it to get rid of the captain. He returned for his second over to dismiss Suryakumar Yadav, with a fuller delivery that gripped and came on slowly onto the bat. Shankar would have ended with one more wicket had Rashid Khan not dropped De Kock in the 13th over. Shankar eventually finished with 2/19, his best performance with the ball in an IPL game.
"I just tried to take the pace off. With the new ball, it was coming on nicely to the bat, we just had a plan of taking the pace off as much as we can. There was a good pace and it was also sitting up nicely when we were bowling at normal speed. The change-ups worked a lot for us. It looked (like) a very good wicket, it's important for us to bat out 20 overs and give us a good chance to chase this total," he explained later.
Rashid and Mujeeb ably assisted Shankar as Mumbai stalled in the middle overs, finishing with just 54 for three in that phase.
Jonny Bairstow as opener works for SRH
Sunrisers made four changes for the game against Mumbai, one of which was dropping Wriddhiman Saha to promote Bairstow as an opener. And returning to his familiar spot, Bairstow showed his team why should not demote him down the lineup again as he smashed 43 off 22 at a strike rate of 195.45 laced with three boundaries and four sixes, one of which smashed the fridge in the SRH dugout.
Bairstow's blitzkrieg knock helped SRH amass 57 runs without any loss in the PowerPlay. Warner, with 15 off 18, played second fiddle to Bairstow (41 off 18) in that phase.
Should Mumbai have brought Rahul Chahar earlier into the attack?
Rahul has dismissed Jonny Bairstow twice in T20s in eight balls for a score of just 4, the most recent being in the limited-overs series between India and England last month. And in IPL, since 2018, Bairstow has been dismissed nine times by a right-arm leg spinner, most against any variety, at an average of just 29, the least against any variety. However, Warner has a scoring rate of 10.90 against Chahar and hence Mumbai waited to introduce him into the attack.
He came in at the same over number - 9 - as that in the chase against Kolkata Knight Riders and turned the tables for the chasing team thereafter.
Another chase, another SRH middle-order crumble
In the first seven overs, SRH were 67 without a loss, the required equation being 84 off 78 with a well-set opening pair in the middle. But one moment of misfortune and another fielding brilliance triggered yet another collapse for SRH in IPL 2021. Bairstow was dismissed hit wicket at the start of the 8th over and Hardik Pandya's brilliant throw dismissed Warner for 36 in the 12th over. In between, Manish Pandey, looking to answer his critics, was dismissed playing an aggressive shot, holing out to fielder at long-off for just 2 off 7. And from 90 for three in 11.3 overs, SRH lost 7 wickets in a space of 49 balls for just 47 runs, Shankar scoring 28 off 25.
In SRH's first game of the season, against KKR at the same venue, the team had crumbled during their chase of 188, losing their final five wickets for just 30 runs in a space of 22 deliveries. In their second game, against RCB, SRH lost six wickets in a space of just 23 deliveries from the start of the 16th over, for a score of just 27 runs, hence falling six runs short of the target.
Since 2019, SRH have chased 20 times with only 9 ending on a victorious note, the winning percentage of 45 is the joint-lowest alongside RCB during the period.