Despite teams’ claims about not being nervous and how approach is more important than the result, some decisions give away that urge to think out of the box. But doing that in a match that decides who goes through to the playoffs reeks of desperation. Both Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders came up with a few bizarre moves on Sunday. Few clicked, few failed.
Supplanting Eoin Morgan with Kane Williamson was understandable since Hyderabad lacked middle-order stability. But giving him the ball in Powerplay was certainly something KKR hadn’t expected. Williamson conceded just seven runs. Strangely, Hyderabad captain David Warner didn’t give Yuvraj Singh, probably the most experienced spinner in their ranks, even one over. Instead, Karn Sharma was allowed to bowl dollies to Yusuf Pathan.
If Warner popped a surprise by giving Williamson the ball, KKR tried to be one-up on their opponents by sending Colin Munro at No 3. It was possibly the worst match to try Munro, who had last played more than five weeks ago, when clearly Manish Pandey was better suited to play spin.
As long as Pathan and Pandey were together, KKR looked set for a total above 190. Pandey fell at a crucial time but KKR possibly wouldn’t have suffered a few hiccups had they not sent Jason Holder ahead of Suryakumar Yadav. Holder faced only three deliveries but that was enough to interrupt the rhythm. It also gave Mustafizur Rahman, who before that had conceded 20 runs in two overs, the boost to get back some form.
It prompted a phase of bowling that Shakib al Hasan looked at sea for 10 deliveries before surrendering to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. It left Yadav with three deliveries which he made the most of but KKR had conceded the momentum, scoring 30 runs in their last five overs.
That was almost cancelled by Gautam Gambhir’s decision to open the bowling with Pathan’s slow spin. The ploy was clear -- to deprive Warner speed on the ball to get his strokes going. When Warner fell to Sunil Narine early, it set up an exciting game.