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Monday, November 30, 2020

Sunrisers stay alive: Warner & Bros. give near-perfect performance to hand Delhi third consecutive defeat

Wriddhiman Saha, Jonny Bairstow's replacement at the top of the order, the guest of honour. Rashid Khan, whose 3/7 is the most economical spell of IPL 2020 so far, puts the cherry on top.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: October 28, 2020 2:25:24 pm
Sunrisers stay alive: Warner & Bros. give near-perfect performance to hand Delhi third consecutive defeatWriddhiman Saha smashed 12 fours and two sixes for SRH in their 88-run victory over Delhi Capitals. (BCCI/IPL)

Sunrisers Hyderabad needed a strong performance to lay the ghost of their batting choke against Kings XI Punjab to rest. They responded superbly to trounce Delhi Capitals by 88 runs. Chasing 220 for victory, DC folded up for 131 in 19 overs. SRH lived to fight another day with 10 points from 12 games, while DC have now suffered three back-to-back losses. With 14 points from 12 matches, DC, however, are still well poised to reach Playoffs.

Saha, the guest of honour

Birthday boy David Warner threw a party in Dubai. But Wriddhiman Saha was the guest of honour.

Saha has been playing the waiting game. This was only his second game this IPL. His previous match was against Kolkata Knight Riders more than a month ago. Then again, Saha’s career has always been about playing the waiting game. After their batting implosion against Kings XI Punjab that saw Sunrisers Hyderabad snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, some changes became imperative. Jonny Bairstow’s exclusion, though, threw up a surprise. Saha was called upon to open the innings with Warner.

His start was a tad agricultural. A streaky boundary and a couple of mistimed shots were part of his bedding-in period. But once he got into the groove, Saha dazzled. He used the sweep shot against Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel to fantastic effect. Indian spinners have traditionally been uncomfortable against batsmen who play the sweep shot well. Saha is a top player against spin and being someone who knows Indian spinners inside out, the ’keeper-batsman used the sweep to upset the rhythm of the Delhi Capitals spinners.

And once he got going, Saha was terrific against pace as well. A pull against Kagiso Rabada and a lofted off-drive against Anrich Nortje were gorgeous.

Be it the Indian team or his IPL franchise, Saha seems to be always walking a tightrope. In a win-or-bust game for SRH, he probably didn’t have the licence to fail. Saha reached his half-century in 27 deliveries and ended up scoring a 45-ball 87.

Warner played the initial gig and allowed his opening partner to bed in. Until this match, Warner’s batting in this IPL looked to be a little cagey. On Tuesday, he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. The SRH captain targeted Rabada and a 22-run over, which took his team’s score to 77/0 at the end of the Powerplay, made a serious impact. Warner’s 34-ball 66 was gold standard. His 107-run partnership (58 balls) with Saha laid the foundation for an imposing total. Rabada, the current Purple Cap holder, returned with 0/54 from his four overs.

Cherry on top

DC lost Shikhar Dhawan and Marcus Stoinis in the first two overs of their chase and the only time they looked to be putting up a fight was when Ajinkya Rahane and Shimron Hetmyer were playing with intent. Hetmyer took consecutive boundaries off Jason Holder. Rahane played a brilliant front-foot pull for a six. But Rashid Khan came and castled Hetmyer off his first ball. Four balls later, a googly trapped Rahane leg-before. The leggie returned with figures of 3/7 from four overs to put the cherry on top after the batting blitz by Saha and Warner.

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