Sunrisers Hyderabad's misery continued as they suffered their sixth defeat this season, losing to Rajasthan Royals by 55 runs in Delhi. They dropped David Warner, SRH's most consistent scorer, in a bid to rejig their lineup. But the issue persisted. They brought in all-rounder Mohammad Nabi to provide depth, but he was hardly used as a bowler with Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson firing from both ends. In the end, SRH left the field with more questions than answers.
Why did Kane Williamson bowl out Rashid Khan early?
Rashid has been a banker for SRH over the course of his stay at the franchise in IPL, primarily used in the middle overs to restrict the scoring and pick up quick wickets. But on Sunday, the newly-announced skipper, making a gamble, used two overs of Rashid early in the PowerPlay itself. It was for the first time in his SRH career that the leggie has bowled two overs in that phase. Well, if match-ups are looked at the move wasn't bad at all. Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal averages only 10 against leg-spinners in IPL, having been dismissed twice. Rashid has dismissed Jos Buttler four times in 16 balls for just 10 runs and got the better of Sanju Samson once in 59 balls for 52 runs in IPL.
He was welcomed with a boundary by the young opener, who then survived a scare, before pulling off another. And just when the move seemed to look silly, Rashid had the last laugh, pinning the opener plumb in front of the middle. Rashid conceded only another boundary in his next three overs as the pair of Buttler and Samson cautiously negated the leggie, pulling off just 17 runs, and almost ended up with the wicket of Buttler in the second over
Well, Sunrisers had managed to keep the two batters quite at the halfway mark, barring that 18-run over off Vijay Shankar as Royals put together 86 for 1 at the end of the 11th over. But thereafter, the two went after everyone disdainfully, scoring 114 runs in the next 9 overs laced with 19 boundaries.
The Nabi move failed to pay off
David Warner was replaced by Mohammad Nabi, in a bid to give bowling and batting depth to SRH. And with the Royals having two lefties in their lineup - David Miller and debutant Anuj Rawat, the use of Nabi would have been useful. But with Buttler and Samson firing, the Afghanistan all-rounder was used only for one over, in the 15th, where he was smoked for 21 runs by Buttler - two sixes and as many fours.
Manish Pandey, SRH's new opener
With Warner dropped, Manish was promoted up the order to open for SRH alongside Jonny Bairstow. He has opened in IPL 32 times, the last being in 2014, for Kolkata Knight Riders.
On Sunday, Manish took the first strike and was up against the fiery Kartik Tyagi. He struggled to middle the ball against such high-paced deliveries, managing only five runs, which included a boundary, in his first two overs against the pacer. But when the youngster had returned for his third over in the PowerPlay, Manish smashed him for two boundaries - one against the widish fuller deliver over cover and the other over mid-wicket. Manish then smashed two back-to-back boundaries against Chris Morris as SRH finished with an unbeaten score of 57 in the PowerPlay.
Warner dropped but the problem remains
Minutes ahead of the toss in Delhi, SRH's director of cricket operations, Tom Moody confirmed Warner's exclusion from playing XI, explaining that "at this stage, two overseas bat, an all-rounder, and Rashid Khan is our best combination."
Warner, in six innings this season, managed only 193 runs at a strike rate of 110.3. Despite being SRH's second-highest scorer, Warner was dropped with Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson shining with the bat and Rashid being an indispensable member of SRH. But the problem of lack of batting depth persisted with SRH after Williamson failed to make an impact with the bat. While the top order added 81 runs off 62 balls at a strike rate of 130.65, the middle order put together only 54 runs.
SRH lost both their openers in the two overs after PowerPlay. Tyagi then derailed SRH's scoring further by removing Williamson for 20 off 21. Morris and Mustafizur Rahman then ran through the middle order with their slower deliveries.
SRH are yet to address the problem pertaining to lack of batting depth. They added Nabi to give batting depth, but the all-rounder added only a quickfire 17 off 5.