It’s a trick the IPL fantasy league fans have known for a while. It’s no use packing your team just with batsmen or even allrounders. You have to pick a couple of good bowlers who can do the job for you. However, it’s a trick that IPL franchises often mess up on. The conventional wisdom about T20 is that it’s a batsman’s game, and if you are going to have bowlers, let’s select some men who can bat and also bowl. It’s a move that has often backfired but teams haven’t seen much value in choosing specialists. Not Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Not only did their captain David Warner have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman, probably the best bowler of this IPL, but he showed he trusted them more than his batsmen by opting to bat first in the final on Sunday. The batsmen did their job, racking up a total over 200, and the way Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli were motoring along, it seemed it was Bangalore’s game. But Warner had his specialist bowlers as his trump cards. And they delivered.
Chasing 209, Bangalore had reached 100 in just nine overs. Ben Cutting, who had chipped in with a batting cameo to push the total over 200, brought Hyderabad back into the game with a couple of wickets before the specialists took over. Rehman removed Shane Watson with a slower one, cut down the run-flow before handing over to Bhuvneshwar. The mediumpacer who has just made a comeback to the Indian team kept hurling those yorkers in, even as Rahman chipped in with another decent over, to push up the required rate. Bhuvneshwar finished the job with another miserly over in the end to seal the game. Former West Indies bowler Ian Bishop tweeted: “Congrats! It’s a win for bowlers as much as for the batsmen.” That specialist bowlers and team balance are key to a winning team in any format is a message that all IPL teams should heed in the years to come.