After the win over Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in their last match, Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper David Warner had announced that the key to their form this season had been the hunger and self-belief.
“We have really worked hard this year, we have stayed hungry and we have belief in ourselves to go out there and play the perfect game,” Warner told reporters.
Both attributes seemed to desert them at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium on Friday against the Delhi Daredevils as they lost by six wickets.
Sunrisers had begun the match on top of the table while Delhi were in sixth spot, needing to win both their remaining matches at their second home stadium in Naya Raipur.
The “perfect game” proved to be elusive as Warner & Co could only manage 158/7 in the first innings.
On the field too, they were reckless, dropping catches at crucial junctures. Warner dropped the in-form Karun Nair on 51 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar dropped JP Duminy on 16.
Yet, it was a match where two run outs were the biggest turning points.
In the first innings, Sunrisers were 46 inside six overs when Carlos Brathwaite conjured up a moment of magic. Off his run-up, the West Indian quickly got down to stop the ball from going to mid-off before turning and instinctively hitting the stumps at the striker’s end to end Shikhar Dhawan’s stay on the pitch.
Inside five balls, Delhi’s Amit Mishra had effected another run out to claim Deepak Hooda too. It was the start of a dismal batting display which will alarm the Sunrisers think-tank, especially considering that the playoffs are just a few days away. Yuvraj Singh (10 runs) and Eoin Morgan (14) both failed to propel their team’s total after skipper Warner’s 73-run knock.
Only three days ago, Delhi batsman Nair had lamented that the lack of partnerships had cost his side dear and led to the defeat against Rising Pune Supergiants. On Friday, it seemed the Delhi boys had learnt their lesson.
Nair stitched a 73-run partnership with Rishabh Pant (32) before the latter was run out.