The biggest dilemma for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season has been to pick one from Dale Steyn and Trent Boult. With the restrictions on number of foreign players in the playing eleven, it is rather difficult to have both in the starting line up. They managed that in one game, and while both did reasonably well, it had upset the balance of their side. The choice has been rather difficult for Sunrisers since Steyn is the leading fast bowler in the world, but Boult was one of the players of the tournament in the 2015 World Cup. Sunrisers have preferred the Kiwi left- arm pacer for most matches, and he has delivered.
On Monday, in the game against Kings XI Punjab as well, he was the standout performer with the ball. Sunrisers had not put up a huge total on the board, and needed their bowlers to step up again. Boult led the attack from the front. His early dismissal of Manan Vohra was the key in giving the team some much-needed confidence early on. Equally significant were his strikes later in the innings. Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel had led a fight back for Punjab late in the innings, and seemed to be giving Sunrisers a scare. But, Boult delivered two very good strikes to swing the match back in Sunrisers' favour.
It was the bowling that was chiefly responsible for Sunrisers' victory on Monday. While Boult was the destroyer in chief, Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided able support. Karn Sharma and Moises Henriques also chipped in with wickets while being economical. While their bowling was impressive, Sunrisers' batting continued to disappoint. It was the same old story, with David Warner shining at the top, and the rest being unable to match them. Henriques and Naman Ojha got some runs, but they weren't quick enough. It was Ashish Reddy's cameo towards the end that took them to a reasonable score.
Looking at Punjab's performance, their bowling was reasonably good. Axar Patel was the best bowler on show. He was economical and dismissed the well set Warner and Ojha. Mitchell Johnson also impressed with a couple of wickets while Anureet Singh and Sandeep Sharma chipped in as well. Even Murali Vijay made an impact, bowling three cheap overs. But, for a couple of big hits towards the end, Punjab's bowling was efficient.
It was Punjab's batting that let them down again. Virender Sehwag was dropped, but his replacement Manan Vohra failed to make an impression as well. Vijay once again disappointed, giving his wicket away. He hasn't looked the destructive player he was for Chennai. With George Bailey, Shaun Marsh and David Miller all failing yet again, Punjab found themselves in deep trouble. The match was all but over once the top five fell cheaply. And even though Saha fought hard, it was always a losing cause for Punjab.
--By A Cricket Analyst