In essence, the Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Delhi Capitals game on Sunday (April 14) was a clash of two weak, misfiring middle orders. In the end, it was Delhi who did marginally better than Hyderabad, emerging victorious.
A chase of 156 on a slightly slow but by no means difficult pitch should have been a straightforward one, especially after a 72-run opening stand. Yet, for the second time in as many matches at home, Hyderabad bungled a modest chase thanks to their wobbly middle order. In their previous home match, Hyderabad had been skittled out for just 96 in chase of 137. This time, they were bowled out for just 116, losing ten wickets for just 44 runs.
Openers David Warner (51) and Jonny Bairstow had yet another half-century stand, but no other batsman even got to double digits.
In some ways, the very reason for Hyderabad’s middle order woes is their openers’ success. Warner and Bairstow have added three century and two half-century partnerships, leaving little time for the remaining batsmen.
Warner has scored 400 runs this season, while Bairstow has made 304. Apart from the duo, only Vijay Shankar has faced more than 100 balls (102), managing 132 runs. The next in the list is Manish Pandey, who has faced only 58 balls, scoring only 54 runs. Mohammad Nabi, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda have faced fewer balls, not doing much of note in the little chances.
It didn’t help that Kane Williamson was injured for the most part. In this game, though, even Williamson’s presence didn’t help Hyderabad.
The weakness in the middle order has made Warner take a fairly cautious approach. The runs have come consistently, but the pace has reduced in recent games as Warner has tried to be the anchor and aggressor. It was on display in the previous match against Kings XI Punjab, where he scored just 70 despite facing 62 balls. Against Delhi, Warner took 47 balls for his 51.
For most part of the chase, Warner was going at just around a run a ball. His first 22 balls yielded just 16 runs. Bairstow made up for Warner’s slow start, making 41 off 31 as Hyderabad posted 73 for 1 in the first ten. However, the runs dried up after his exit.
With Warner not at full flow, Hyderabad just didn’t have the muscle to hit in the middle overs against Keemo Paul’s slower ones. There were no boundaries scored between 8.4 and the start of the 13th over. The 13th over yielded two fours, but there was not a single boundary after that.
Delhi won the match but they were not too better than their opposition as far as their middle order batting is concerned. They used good batting conditions to race ahead in the initial stages, but struggled for power in the latter half.
Colin Munro, the No. 3, gave them a solid start despite the openers’ failures. His 24-ball 40 ensured Delhi got 87 for 3 in the first ten overs. However, they managed just 53 runs in the last eight.
For the first 13 overs, Delhi scored at least one boundary per over in every over except the second. However, they scored no boundaries from 12.4 to 18.3, losing their way towards the end.
Delhi’s shaky middle order has already cost them a match against Kings XI Punjab, and nearly messed up their game against Kolkata Knight Riders at home before Kagiso Rabada bailed them out with a stunning Super Over.
Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw have had one good knock each, but consistency has evaded them. Rishabh Pant has faded away after a stellar start against Mumbai Indians, where he smashed 78* off 27. There’s little batting after Pant, making Delhi a top heavy line up. Captain Shreyas Iyer has held the line up together, scoring 266 runs from eight matches with three 40s and one half-century. His strike-rate has been just 120.36, but Iyer has largely been the glue keeping the batting together, knowing there’s not much batting to follow.
The lack of muscle didn’t cost Delhi in this game, but could be a factor as the tournament progresses. Hyderabad are finding that out the hard way, and will have to find solutions if they are to progress.