In the preview to this match, it was clearly mentioned that Sunrisers Hyderabad’s chances of pulling off an upset against Chennai Super Kings hinged heavily on how their top three in the batting order performed. On Sunday, two of the three registered failures and the third was forced to curb his natural game and hang around for the team’s cause. When they come off, Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner and Aaron Finch make for a formidable combination. But, this overdependence on the terrific trio is hurting Sunrisers in a big manner, which was clearly evident in the loss against Chennai as well.
Even though Finch did hang around till the 18th over, his presence did not have a significant impact on the team’s fortunes since he was only maneuvering the ball around. Sunrisers desperately need some contribution from their middle order else their progress in the series will be stunted to a major extent. The likes of Lokesh Rahul and Yenugopal Rao need to be able to produce the big shots, and also come up with knocks that last long enough to have an impact on the fortunes of the team. So far nothing of that sort is happening.
Alternately, Sunrisers can think of moving the swashbuckling Darren Sammy up in the batting order. Sammy has constantly produced cameos that have aided the side in precarious situations. On Sunday as well against Chennai, his brief flurry towards the end helped Sunrisers finish with a somewhat challenging total. Karn Sharma also came up with a couple of impressive big hits. But, what Sunrisers need is a good batting performance all-round. Even if a couple of big names fail at the top, they should be able to recover courtesy their middle and lower order, which isn’t happening at present.
There are issues for Sunrisers in the bowling department as well. While Dale Steyn and Bhuvneswhar Kumar have performed up to potential in most matches, they have suffered in a big way since Amit Mishra hasn’t been at his best. Against Chennai as well he struggled to make an impact, and with a low score to defend, Mishra’s failure pretty much killed any little chance Sunrisers had of pulling off an upset. Another poor bowling effort by Ishant Sharma did not help the team’s cause. True, there were dew issues, but even without it Sunrisers would have struggled to defend the total.
In contrast, Chennai were in top form again. Ben Hilfenhaus bowled brilliantly at the top to get rid of two from the big three. Mohit Sharma had another impressive match wherein he constantly maintained the pressure on the batsmen. While Ravichandran Ashwin did not get any wickets, he ensured that he stifled the batsmen. But for a rare off day for Ravindra Jadeja, everything was perfect for Chennai in the bowling. Their batsmen did falter towards the end while chasing, but Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum had provided enough cushion for Chennai with another rollicking opening stand.
--By A Cricket Analyst