Notwithstanding discouraging starts, bowling units have displayed the will to pull back the scoring and restrict the opposition to a chaseable score.
Sunday’s double header showed that despite being provided with a defendable score, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiants lacked the bowling to win the game in the final stages. Supergiants seem to be more affected because they don’t have the resources to plunder runs in the first innings like Bangalore.
Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Pune’s problem could be further exposed. While setting huge targets has been a problem, even if they do chase on Tuesday, Pune will run into possibly the most wily death bowlers in Mustafizur Rahman and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
This is the first time in his IPL career that MS Dhoni has lost four matches in a row. To avoid a fifth, Pune’s spinners will have to make a difference and give support to Rajat Bhatia, who with three wickets and an economy of 5.78 has looked their most consistent bowler.
The main problem with the spinners has been the length adopted by them. “When I got time, I told the spinners not to bowl up to the batsmen. Still five were hit and 30 runs were scored. It’s about how you execute your plans in the field. We are lacking it, especially the bowling unit. Someone like an (M) Ashwin, he is new and will feel the pressure. You can advise individuals, but when you have the ball, nothing can be done for you,” said Dhoni.
Unlike Pune, Hyderabad have a settled look to their bowling attack with Mustafizur, Bhuvneshwar, Deepak Hooda and Moises Henriques featuring in all their five matches. “If you look at the last two matches, the bowlers did really well against formidable batting lineups (Gujarat and Kings XI). To restrict both teams under 150 on good pitches was exceptional. We want to continue with that,” said Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman on Monday.
In contrast, only M Ashwin and R Ashwin have played in all the matches for Pune. R Ashwin has bowled just 14 overs so far, not finishing his quota in three of the five matches he’s played. While Pune coach Stephen Fleming conceded on Sunday that Ashwin’s sliding form has been a considerable factor, Pune’s inability to come up with a solution points to the imbalance between their bowling and batting.
Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith and Dhoni in the batting line-up is a way of ensuring heavy duty backup in case two batsmen don’t fire. Their bowling, however, looks woefully short of that support.