For the second time in as many games in IPL 2018, Sunrisers Hyderabad defended a below-par total, demonstrating the depth of their bowling attack.
Two days after they defended 118 against Mumbai Indians, they ensured that even 132-6 was too much for Kings XI Punjab to chase in Hyderabad on Thursday April 26.
For Punjab, Ankit Rajpoot took an excellent 5-14. Their openers then added 55 for the first wicket in 7.5 overs. Yet, by the end of the night, they were left to rue their missed chances.
Rashid Khan was again in the thick of things, getting the breakthrough with a beauty to bowl opener KL Rahul, before finishing with 3-19. Shakib Al Hasan (2-18), Sandeep Sharma (2-17) and Basil Thampi (2-14) got two wickets each. In the continued absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their injured pace spearhead, and Billy Stanlake, whose IPL has ended, it was a commendable effort from the Hyderabad bench to give Williamson some selection headaches.
“After two poor games, I gained confidence after my performance against Mumbai,” said Khan, after he took his season tally to nine.
It was a surface described as “difficult” by Williamson and “not the greatest” for batting by his Punjab counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin.
Yet, a combination of the aspects that have been working for Hyderabad – Williamson’s bowling changes, depth in bowling, strong spin stocks, a positive team culture – helped them prevail.
Williamson, though, was not getting carried away. Even as he hailed his bowlers, he urged for more with the bat. “It’s nice we’ve been able to defend these totals. We want to be a little bit smarter with the bat, if it is small margins. It’s not a matter of getting 180 on the surfaces we’ve been on – it’s about getting 145, 155,” he said.
The kind of application he was referring to was shown by Manish Pandey, who made a patient 54 off 51. “I didn’t plan to play how I did,” said Pandey. “Yes, two wickets had fallen, but I thought the surface would still allow me to play freely. But then I realised the ball wasn’t coming on the bat so well.
“We had been in a similar situation against Mumbai, and had lost too many wickets then. So the coach also told me to bat deep and attack after 15 overs. The small partnerships were vital.”
Ashwin, meanwhile, rued how his batsmen attacked when they should have applied themselves, as eight wickets fell for 42 runs. They also did themselves no favours with their poor catching.
“Rashid Khan’s bowling made the difference,” said Ashwin. “We kept attacking too much and lost a few wickets. But these things happen.
“We fielded badly. We dropped way too many catches for a 20-over game and it cost us. If we had taken a couple of catches we might have restricted them [by] 20-30 runs.”