Synopsis: Two Suns shine bright after Knights miss a trick by holding back Russell.
Two Suns shine bright
Sunrisers Hyderabad have marched along this season on the back of sensational starts from their opening duo of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. Considering their acrimonious past, this oddball pairing of an Aussie and an Englishman looked like a doomed enterprise at the outset. However, judging by their stupendous performances, they have got along very well. They have combined to give their team four 100-plus partnerships. Their stellar show has been like a double-edged sword for Kane Williamson’s squad. While the openers have accounted for 71% of the team’s runs so far, it also meant a severe lack of bat-time of their middle-order.
This seemed to be the trend on Sunday evening against the Kolkata Knight Riders as well, as the Warner-Bairstow alliance stole the show yet again. They brought up their fourth 100-plus opening partnership, which was the cornerstone of their chase. Warner’s 38-ball 67 was matched in equal measure by Bairstow, who smacked a boundary and a brace of sixes against Piyush Chawla to see this team through with an unbeaten 80. Such was their dominance that Sunrisers knocked off the 160-run target in just 15 overs.
The commanding win propelled them to the fourth spot in the league table, giving them a realistic chance of making it to the playoffs. Unsurprisingly, the duo’s efforts have catapulted them to the top of the run-scorers list. Warner with 517 runs and Bairstow with 445 are currently placed at No.1 and No.2 spots respectively. “The bowlers did really well to restrict them after the start they had got. Could have been chasing 200 after that start. He’s (Warner) a great bloke to bat with, we run well between wickets, which helps. I think there’s been a lot of chat about the middle order, unfairly so, but they haven’t had too much time in the middle. Loving every bit of my first IPL,” Bairstow said after the win. Going forward, the real test for the Sunrisers will begin once Bairstow departs after the next match against the Chennai Super Kings. His opening partner, though, is scheduled to feature in three more matches.
KKR miss a trick
It will not be much of a stretch to state that Andre Russell has clearly been the biggest impact player of IPL 12. At an astounding strike-rate of 217.77, the Jamaican has been striking the cricket ball better than anyone else in this season. With 392 runs, he is currently placed fifth in the list of the top run-getters. Seeing such consistent and clinical hitting have made experts and fans ask a pertinent question? Wouldn’t KKR be better served if their power-hitter walked in with more overs remaining? In nine innings, Russell has batted at No.5 or below. In the frenetic universe of the IPL, it’s imperative that your best batsman gets to face the maximum number of deliveries.
In that KKR so far have missed the trick by not promoting their in-form player. Despite getting precious little time at the crease, the 30-year-old has managed to turn dire situations into match-winning ones. In fact, KKR’s first two wins of the season — against Sunrisers and Kings XI Punjab — were fashioned by Russell’s blitz, chasing down a mammoth 50 runs in their final three overs on both these matches.
Cut to their previous encounter against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, in which they were staring down the barrel at 79/4, in pursuit of 214. When Russell walked out, his team required 135 runs from 49 deliveries. Even on that occasion, he took them within touching distance, smacking a 25-ball 65, even as KKR fell short by a mere 10 runs.
Following that match, Russell insisted that batting under such situations were far from ideal and added that if he batted higher up the order, it would force opposition captains to use their best bowlers earlier in the game, thereby leaving their weaker bowlers for the difficult death overs.
After Russell’s pyrotechnics against the Royal Challengers, the clamour for KKR’s talisman’s elevation grew even further. More so, considering they had lost four matches on the trot and needed to win against the Sunrisers to inject momentum into their campaign. Inexplicably, that would not be the case.
On Sunday afternoon, it looked like Russell would have to wait till eternity for his chance with the bat. When he eventually strode out at No.7, KKR had lost five wickets and had 27 deliveries remaining. Devoid of strike, it once again gave the burly Jamaican little time to assert himself on the proceedings. Just to illustrate this point further, at the end of the 18th over, Russell had faced just 4 deliveries. This aptly underlined KKR’s gross underutilisation of their most potent resource. Unsurprisingly, they were left with a below par score.