Gautam Gambhir came down hard on the duo of Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar, who according to him lost SRH the game with their lack of intent, and termed the concept of ‘taking it deep’ nonsense. Gambhir questioned SRH’s approach and claimed that there can’t be two anchors in a chase.
In what was exhibit ‘n’ in a team choking after attempting to take the game deep, Sunrisers Hyderabad slumped to a hideous defeat versus Kings XI Punjab in Dubai on Saturday. Needing just 75 runs off the last 14 overs in a chase of 127, Sunrisers, propelled by the Manish Pandey - Vijay Shankar partnership, put the brakes on and let Punjab dictate the middle-overs in order to take the game deep. Lack of urgency in the middle meant that the required rate, slowly but steadily, caught up with the batsmen and SRH’s worst nightmare, before they could realize, came true as after leaving it too late, all batsmen perished whilst attempting to up the ante. Eventually, they slumped to a 12-run defeat and pulled off one of the greatest chokes of all time.
Reflecting on the chase, Gautam Gambhir ripped into the SRH batsmen, in particular Pandey and Shankar, and chastised them for trying to take it deep. Gambhir labelled the concept of ‘taking it deep’ nonsense and stated that no T20 chase can have two batsmen playing the anchor role.
“Taking the game deep into the innings is absolute nonsense. In the T20 format, someone needs to decide who is going to be the aggressor. Two batsmen cannot be anchors. And today the reason why SRH lost the game was because neither Manish Pandey nor Vijay Shankar were trying to be aggressors. Both of them were thinking of taking the innings deep and finishing it in the last three overs,” Gambhir said in ESPN Cricinfo’s T20 Time-out.
“They left too much for the end. This is what happens in T20 cricket. Once you’ve got momentum, especially in the first six overs, one needs to keep going, particularly whilst chasing small targets. Look at what RCB did against KKR when they were chasing 85 - they just went with the same intent. Probably Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar thought they were going to take the game deep into the innings. I’ve never been a big believer of taking the game deep into the innings - try and continue with the momentum.”
While Shankar played relatively slow, the main culprit for SRH was Pandey, who took 29 balls for his 15 runs and played a myriad of dot balls. It was a knock no one quite saw coming as it was only two days ago that the Karnataka lad had struck a whirlwind 83*(47) versus the Royals. Gambhir opined that a talented batsman like Pandey should learn to bat free-flowingly, particularly when he’s in the midst of a good patch.
“Some weird things happen in the T20 format and we’ve seen it again today that you have to be absolutely aggressive. Especially after the performance versus RR, the batsmen should have continued with the same momentum. But Manish Pandey had no intent and kept playing a lot of dot balls. He probably needs to learn that if you’re in good form, continue with it. It’s easier said than done, but a batsman like Pandey has all the ability.”
Gambhir was also critical of Shankar and Pandey’s approach versus spin. Leg-spinners Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi combinedly gave away just 40 runs in 8 overs and Gambhir noted that it was ‘criminal’ for two Indian batsmen to let spinners dictate play whilst chasing an innocuous target.
“Mohammad Shami has actually defended 6 runs off the Super over against Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock - so why would you want to take the game till the last over? These things happen under pressure, we’ve seen Kings XI choke against KKR. That’s the reason I’m putting the blame on Vijay Shankar and Manish Pandey. You can’t let Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin go for less than six, or even five, runs an over. That’s criminal.”