In slam-bang IPL, Sunrisers Hyderabad revel in bowlers-first policy
Sunrisers Hyderabad, the defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions, have reaped the rewards of focusing on the bowling unit, be it Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s seam and swing or Rashid Khan’s googly.ipl 2017 Updated: May 16, 2017 18:22 IST
Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad are one of the rare outfits in the Indian Premier League who appear to give more importance to bowling than batting. It can be seen in the make-up of Sunrisers Hyderabad. While their batting strength revolves mainly around the top order, Kolkata Knight Riders, their Wednesday’s opponents, are packed with heavy artillery from No. 1 Chris Lynn to No. 7 Yusuf Pathan.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s success is in equal measure due to their incisive bowling as it is due to the top-order’s consistent displays. And, it is seen in the results.
There is a clear, clever pattern in the bowlers the team management has gone for. Instead of the high pace pack, they look for the medium pace kinds who rely on control and variety. In the spin department too, they had gone about buying in unique fashion, trusting two rookies from Afghanistan. It’s all been great value for money.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar sits atop the list of wicket-takers with 25 scalps, rookie leg-spinner Rashid Khan has 17 wickets in 13 games, and the unsung domestic bowler Siddharth Kaul has 16 victims in nine games. Young Mohammed Siraj has chipped in at crucial junctures (10 wickets in six games) and off-spinner Mohammad Nabi has been most economical in the limited opportunities he has been given.
What’s been most impressive is the depth in their squad. Ashish Nehra and Mustfizur Rahman, their two top names on paper, have hardly contributed this season. But, others have risen to the occasion commendably.
Best in the business
Bhuvneshwar is relishing the responsibility of performing when the pressure is on. Captain David Warner uses him during the field restrictions in the powerplays and then in the last five overs when the slog is on. Except by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he is yet to be targeted.
His coach Tom Moody is effusive in his praise of his strike bowler. “Bhuvi has shown that he’s not only one of India’s best T20 bowlers but one of the leading bowlers in world cricket. Just look at what he’s done statistically, in conditions that are generally challenging for fast bowlers. He has shown consistency from last year to this year.
“Bhuvi has continued to grow and develop. He has come to this year’s tournament with a few more tricks up his sleeve. That’s important; if you don’t evolve as a T20 player you’re going to be left behind quickly. Bhuvi’s done that and no surprise to see him at the top of the wickets column,” said Moody.
Keeping it tight
It’s been some fantastic bowling upfront and at the death by SRH.
When they lost senior pro Nehra, who would have thought Kaul would fill in the big shoes so effortlessly. An underrated domestic performer for Punjab, Kaul has been a revelation, holding his own in pressure situations. Moody is equally pleased with the temperament shown by the young Mohammed Siraj.
“They’ve (Kaul and Siraj) done well. Kaul has been with us for a couple of years. He’s been patient with his opportunity and he’s deserved that opportunity. When the time was right, we knew he was a bowler who could step up. Kaul is a quality player, a very fine player, an asset to our team and squad. Through that patience and hard work he’s delivered for us in the last game.”