Sunrisers Hyderabad registered its first win of the season as the Aiden Markram-led side hammered Punjab Kings by eight wickets in the 14th match of the IPL at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Although the home side cantered to a comprehensive win, the absence of left-handers in the batting line-up has proven to be a disadvantage for the 2016 IPL winner. Barring Washington Sundar, the batting department is stacked with right-handers. During its second home game, left-hander Abhishek Sharma wasn’t included in the playing XI. Even in the loss against Lucknow Super Giants, Sharma lost his place to Anmolpreet Singh.
Skipper Markram cleared the air about the 22-year-old missing out on game time.
“Abhi (Abhishek Sharma) is certainly an important player for us, and the message I have got is that he is still coming back from his injury and needs a bit more time. Going forward we have to use him as he is a quality player and lends balance and also the left-right combination,” he said.
Mayank, Tripathi shine
The Hyderabad skipper further stressed the fact that his team had plans in the first two games but failed to execute them.
The architects of Hyderabad’s first win were Mayank Markande and Rahul Tripathi. Markande set the tone by picking a four-wicket haul as Hyderabad restricted Punjab to 143/9. Tripathi then smashed a brilliant unbeaten half-century and forged an unbeaten century stand with Markram to guide his team home in 17.1 overs.
“It’s quite hard to put my finger on one particular aspect, but ultimately it comes down to execution. In the previous games, the plans were in place, but unfortunately, the execution let us down a bit. Today we started well with the new ball, took wickets in the PowerPlay and the ability to keep the pressure on the opposition and then a great spell of spin bowling from Mayank Markande,” Markram said.
“It was Rahul being Rahul. He played an incredible knock for us. I spoke to him briefly, and he said he was struggling to rotate the strike initially, but as soon as he got a feel for the pitch, he put the bowlers under pressure as he always does. Very happy for him as he takes the pressure off the whole batting line-up, and his good form is exciting for us as a team. As a team tonight we are incredibly happy with our performance, and everyone understood and executed their roles. We will have a recap and see where we are as a team,” he added.
The South African was satisfied with the pitch that was on offer as after dishing out a belter in the opener where the Rajasthan top-order cashed in, Uppal laid out a surface that supported batters who applied themselves and was also helpful for the bowlers.
“It wasn’t completely a flat pitch but was better in comparison to the previous pitch we had in Lucknow. It was nice to get a pitch like this today, and there was something in it for everyone. There was a little bit of spin, and if a batter applied himself, like Shikhar and Rahul did they reaped rewards. Happy with this kind of a wicket, and I don’t think it wasn’t a 140 kind of wicket, and it was slightly more, and that’s a testament to how we started with the ball.”
Markram backs Brook
Hyderabad promoted explosive batter Harry Brook as an opener, and the move didn’t work as Brook got off to a start but failed to convert into a big one. However, the skipper backed the Englishman.
“Harry has been in great form for the last 12 to 18 months, and it’s just about him freeing himself in the PowerPlay and hitting the cricketing shots, and he doesn’t tend to play an extremely high-risk brand of cricket and just hits cricket shots nice and hard,” Markram said.
Joshi hails Dhawan, Arshdeep
Punjab Kings spin bowling coach Sunil Joshi made light work of the loss stating that in a long tournament like the IPL, every team is bound to have an off day and praised Shikhar Dhawan for scoring his 49th IPL half-century. Dhawan made a splendid 99 off 66 balls and narrowly missed a century as the rest of the batters failed to get going.
“It was a pretty good wicket, and we were about 30-35 runs short. Dhawan played a gem of an innings and showed why he is the best batsman,” Joshi said.
“I think it’s bound to happen (on the loss), and we are playing back-to-back games, and it involves a lot of travel and practice. One-off day everyone will have, and hopefully, we will come back stronger,” he added.
Joshi further said that Harpreet Brar is an important cog in the wheel and heaped praise on fast bowler Arshdeep Singh.
“Harpreet Brar has been a wonderful bowler, and we have seen what he has done last year, and he can only get better. Sharing small areas where he can focus more is spinning the ball more along the lines of bowling dot ball percentage. Sam Curran brings in a lot of experience and can bowl in any situation. Arshdeep upfront is giving us the breakthroughs, and overall in the last 12 months, he has improved remarkably and consistently picked wickets. Hitting those hard lines makes him a more attacking bowler.”