We are in the third week of the tournament now, and no one would have expected that at this stage of the IPL 6, Sunrisers Hyderabad would be sitting on top of the table. They may not stay up for far, but the very fact that they made it there tells the story of how well they have gelled to overcome all their potential weaknesses. Sunrisers’ heart-warming performance against Kings XI Punjab at home on Friday, when they again came from behind to steal a win, was proof of their growing confidence as a unit.
The best aspect of Sunrisers’ performance so far has been that every time the side has found itself in trouble, some or the other individual has put his hands up to rescue the side, and take them past the finish line. Leggie Amit Mishra has done it wonderfully well on a couple of occasions, little-known batsmanHanuma Viharihas also put his hands up when required, even as Thisara Perera is soon becoming their go-to man in tense circumstances. On Saturday, the dependable trio rose to the occasion again, and played key roles in taking Sunrisers to the top of the table, much to the amazement of the other much-fancied sides.
Perera’s cameo was the most significant of all performances. Sunrisers needed quite a few in the last two overs, but Perera’s three sixes of Azhar Mahmood in the penultimate over sealed the deal for Sunrisers. In the past, Perera has fallen before the target has been achieved, but he learnt from his mistakes, and this time took the side past the finishing line. As for Vihari, he was the one who set up the chase nicely for Sunrisers even as the other batsmen in the top and middle-order struggled. It was his knock that gave Perera the cushion of scoring fewer runs at the end.
Mishra did not have as big a role to play in this game, but he did a competent job again, picking up a couple of wickets, including the big scalp of Mahmood. Bowling has been Sunrisers strength in most of their games, and their prowess in this departmentwas on show against Punjab as well. Ishant Sharma was highly effective at the top, sending back Mandeep Singh and David Hussey. The other Sharma, Karan, was equally impressive as he grabbed the big scalps of Adam Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty. And, even though Dale Steyn picked up only a solitary wicket, he was the most economical of all.
In contrast, Punjab were poor with both bat and ball again. Gilchrist got a start for a change, but couldn’t carry on. Hussey also couldn’t compile a significant score this time, and Piyush Chawla’s promotion only worked briefly. All the other batsmen disappointed. Defending a low score, they needed their bowlers to produce something special. Manpreet Gony did raise their hopes getting a couple of scalps, but one poor Mahmood over killed their chances. In the end, they had too few runs in their kitty.
Turning point of the game: Perera’s three sixes, which finished off the match.
--By A Cricket Analyst