David Warner and Jonny Bairstow tormented a hapless Punjab as they led the Sunrisers to an easy victory, finally bringing an end to their three-game losing streak. The game was set-up by some remarkable spin bowling from Hyderabad, with the Kings putting up a horrendous show, making a mere 120.
Where PBKS lost the game
Against the SRH spinners. Punjab's ridiculously slow start had already put them on the back foot but one expected them to fight back strongly with an in-depth batting line-up today. However, an accurate Rashid Khan got ample support from a young Abhishek Sharma, as both combined to break the back of the Kings' batting, taking wickets of Gayle, Hooda and Henriques for just 41 runs in their quota of eight overs.
Bhuvneshwar's impressive opening spell
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's ability to swing the new ball both ways and nail the death overs has made him a popular T20 bowler. After he made a solid comeback for India against England, there were massive expectations from him to further boost SRH's already strong bowling unit. But the senior pacer was a major let down in their first three games and continued his bleak IPL run, finishing with figures of 0/45, 1/30, 1/45 - an ER of 10 and a SR of 36 - which was poor for someone of his caliber and on low-scoring Chepauk surfaces. But, today, he made the full use of the conditions and his experience. He started off accurately, bowling good length and short of length deliveries on the off to assess the wicket whilst not giving away easy runs. But it was the second over where he sowed the demons of the pitch in Punjab's head, as not only he sent back Rahul but his slower balls, and the way they were twirling, piled up further pressure to the challenge that the pitch had on offer. Bhuvi's opening spell, where he gave away just 16 in his first three overs with a wicket, set-up the tone for the Sunrisers.
The promise of Abhishek Sharma
Punjab all-rounder Abhishek Sharma has always been a very talented cricketer but he has often proved too raw for the cash-rich league. But today he was at his best and that too right from the word go. He opened the bowling for Hyderabad and almost bowled all sort of lengths including a near yorker to keep the Punjab openers on their toes. And on the final delivery, if not for an easy drop, he could have had Mayank Agarwal too. He continued to impress in his second spell as, unlike many other young spinners, he didn't mind bowling full and didn't retort to defensive bowling. Soon, in his third over, the left-arm spinner was rewarded with the prized scalp of Deepak Hooda, who was looking to break the shackles as his arm ball proved too hot to handle for the Baroda batsman. It was great to see an attacking intent from the youngster, who wasn't afraid to flight the ball, or bowl full, or even unleash a brand-new 'slider'. Abhishek finished with figures of 2/24 and showed he can form a very good pair with Rashid Khan, especially on these sticky surfaces.
Punjab’s atrocious showing
We know it right, this wasn't the first time when the Kings up a horror show, not going to be the last time too as that has been a feature of their batting overs the years, but still it will continue drawing as much criticism. The Kings lacked plans throughout their innings. Now, one could argue that they were playing their first game on a tricky wicket but then, weren't they supposed to come out with better plans to counter the Powerplay overs or the slow nature of the wicket? For starters, more intent was needed than they exhibited. In the middle-overs too, it was as if they were expecting things to fall in place than make things happen. Mayank never got used to the pace of the pitch, there was a comic run-out too, and Hooda got out almost twice in the eighth over. They were all over the place, and a total mess in the middle. Even the experienced Chris Gayle wasn't able to come up with anything of note to counter the Rashid threat despite all his experience. Barring Shahrukh Khan, someone playing his first season, who had few plans up his sleeve, everyone else failed to impress and put up a dismal show to get bowled-out on 120.
Punjab can use a pinch-hitter for the Powerplay overs
On sticky surfaces, like today, it's a well-known thing that batting is easiest against the new ball inside the first six overs. SRH, now, twice have made full use of the field restrictions. But Punjab, despite batting till 8, and having batting depth, didn't show much intent in the opening overs barring a loose hack from KL Rahul. As their innings progressed, it only got tougher to bat with time, thanks to the introduction of spin. Both KL Rahul and Chris Gayle are generally slow-starters and if Mayank Agarwal doesn't get going, the team is bound to struggle upfront, which was the case today as they just added 32 runs on the board in the Powerplay overs. Gayle, with the exception of a few games last year, hasn't been a quick-starter. And this is where the Kings can employ a pinch-hitter at 3, so as to make the full use of the field restrictions. Someone like Deepak Hooda, who is a naturally aggressive batsman, can be given license to go berserk and it can help the team gain the much needed momentum early. Or else, collapses like today shouldn't come as a surprise as if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
MVP - Rashid Khan
Have you seen Jasprit Bumrah in his trance zone at the death or a Virat Kohli in his element in a run-chase?. Today, or I should say, for so many days now, Rashid Khan has been able to replicate that level of mastery in the middle-overs as he, at times, just turns on his god-mode where things start flowing for him. Today, he not only bamboozled Chris Gayle to pile further misery on the Kings but kept on beating the other batters, making them look like mere club players and choking them to stop the flow of runs.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Snoozefest
“Not again Chepauk, come on, stop taking the fun element away” is what I was continuously blabbering during the game. There were occasions one could have easily dozed-off without missing out on much of the action as just like the previous games, things were overly predictable. Furthermore, the Kings' horrendous batting didn't help the cause and it was a one-sided game with little excitement throughout. Can we get out of Chennai please? PLEASE?