IPL’s ‘novice skipper’ Pat Cummins delivering like a seasoned pro for SRH | Crickit
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IPL’s ‘novice skipper’ Pat Cummins delivering like a seasoned pro for SRH

By, Mumbai
Apr 24, 2024 10:30 PM IST

Australia’s victorious Test championship and ODI World Cup skipper has led Sunrisers Hyderabad to some astonishing wins this season.

Heading into Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, Pat Cummins had never led a team in top-flight T20 cricket. In fact, he had not played a T20 International for over 15 months until February, having also skipped IPL last year. Considering the ever-changing demands of the format, the 30-year-old had remarkably had little game time.

Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Faf du Plessis (PTI)
Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler Pat Cummins celebrates the wicket of Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Faf du Plessis (PTI)

That, however, didn’t stop Sunrisers Hyderabad from bidding a whopping 20.5 crore for his services, even appointing him captain. It was a gamble, especially for a side that hadn’t gone past the league stage in the previous three seasons. But with half their league games in IPL 2024 done, it’s safe to say the punt taken on Cummins has worked. The Sunrisers, with 10 points, will play five of their last seven league games at home and are strong contenders to make the playoffs.

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For all the talk around his relative inexperience in T20s, Cummins’s qualities as skipper and player have been undeniable all along. He led Australia to the World Test Championship title in June last year, following it up with a sensational triumph over India in the ODI World Cup final five months later. His tactical masterclass and audacious leadership in that game will likely remain one of the lasting memories of that tournament.

In IPL 2024, we are witnessing his SRH revolutionise T20 batting with an all-guns-blazing approach. They have broken the record for the highest team total in IPL twice, with a staggering three 260-plus scores. And Cummins has been a key driving force behind this change.

“Everyone’s terrified when they come up against us and we're going to blow some teams out of the water before they have even walked out on the field,” he had told his teammates after they smashed 287 runs while beating Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB).

“We’ve seen the freedom that SRH are playing with,” former Australia captain Aaron Finch said on Star Sports. “Pat and coach Dan Vettori have a great relationship as well. They don’t get emotional around the result of a game. Whether it’s a World Cup, the Big Bash or any other T20 competition, you sit down and map out how you think you’re going to win it. And you have to be prepared to stay the course because it’s so volatile. From Australia’s point of view and SRH’s too, Pat has been a wonderful leader. Just the calmness that he brings to a group. Also, being a bowler, he can sympathise with a bowler when it’s not going well. He knows what to say at the right time.”

With the ball too Cummins has been a cut above the rest. He’s picked nine wickets in seven games. But it’s his economy rate of 8.00 that’s played a huge role in his side’s success. Among pacers who have played five or more games this season, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Matheesha Pathirana have been more frugal, but the point is that SRH’s games have seen higher scores. Their belligerence with the bat has compelled oppositions to come hard at them, which has resulted in jaw-dropping run fests. Through it all, even as most of SRH’s bowlers have gone at over 10 an over, Cummins has been the one to pull things back consistently. The fast bowler has conceded more than nine runs an over in just one game (3/43 against RCB, which also ended in victory).

The Impact Player rule has arguably been the biggest talking point so far this season. With Cummins in charge, SRH have emerged trailblazers in the way they have used it to dominate with the bat. The flip side to this rule is a lack of respite for the bowlers, but in that sense too, the Aussie star has shown his class by adapting to different situations.

We’re moving towards the business end of IPL and Cummins, who’s going through the most glittering phase of his career, will surely believe he can take another of his teams all the way.

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