A deluded SRH management was brought back to earth today in Delhi by a rampant Rajasthan Royals, who further deepened the existential crisis of their opponents. Prior to the game, Moody and Bayliss thought the team could survive without Warner, but the duo were handed a timely warning by RR.
Where Sunrisers lost the game
30 hours ago when they decided to strip David Warner of captaincy and drop him. (Just kidding. Or are we?). On a serious note, though, Williamson lost the game with his miscalculated gambles. Rashid was bowled out too early and that enabled RR to latch on to every other bowler without fear. Nabi too was used in the worst fashion imaginable, defeating the purpose of dropping Warner in the first place.
The aggressive deployment of Rashid Khan
Something weird happened in Delhi today, and no, we’re not referring to David Warner carrying drinks. Rashid Khan, today, bowled in the third over of the game and also bowled two overs inside the powerplay. In case you’re wondering, yes, this is very rare as, prior to today, only once had Rashid bowled inside the first three overs for SRH - back in 2017 - and only once had he bowled more than one over inside the powerplay, also in 2017. The move wasn’t rewarding as Rashid failed to pick up both the big fishes - Samson and Buttler - but it was, nevertheless, a peek into Williamson’s aggressive captaincy. For years now, Warner and SRH have used Rashid as a defensive option. His role primarily has been to choke sides, and wickets have been viewed as a mere consequence of the chokehold he puts. Today, though, the new SRH skipper made it clear that he is looking to use his trump-card Rashid as a wicket-hunter, even if it means that SRH potentially losing out on some valuable control in the middle overs. The decision backfired today, but it is clear that Williamson is going to adhere to his own strategies.
Bhuvi’s return is a boost for SRH, but he is nowhere close to full fitness
At the toss today, skipper Kane Williamson revealed that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was fit again to play (you bet Warner would have been seething) and that instantly gave a boost to SRH, at least on paper. What transpired on the field, though, was not what Bhuvi’s addition promised. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the four overs Bhuvi sent down today were the most innocuous four overs he perhaps has ever bowled in T20 cricket. There was no movement, his line and length was off and his pace was painfully down. You could say that he was lucky to be taken for just 37 off his four overs. His spell today made one wonder if he’d been rushed back prematurely. At no point in the game did Bhuvi look sharp - or fully fit - and watching him bowl was no different to watching a limping Deepak Chahar send down trundlers in his last 2.3 overs versus Mumbai on Saturday. SRH getting Bhuvi back at this stage of the season is great, but it’s not going to serve any purpose if he does not hit his straps immediately.
Kartik Tyagi is the enforcer this one-dimensional Rajasthan bowling unit so desperately needed
It took seven games for Rajasthan to unleash Kartik Tyagi this season, but boy when they did he breathed fire. Surprisingly given the new ball, the youngster managed to keep Jonny Bairstow quiet with his raw pace and aggressive bouncers and conceded just 7 runs off his first 2 overs whilst defending 221. Samson perhaps erred by giving him a third in the powerplay but that’s not the point. Tyagi’s introduction has added a whole new dimension to his Rajasthan attack. Their weird ‘three left-armer’ strategy made the attack one-dimensional and put too much pressure on Morris, but now the introduction of the youngster has, all of a sudden, made RR quite a dynamic bowling unit. Particularly on flat decks where the likes of Sakariya and Unadkat will be rendered ineffective with the new ball, Tyagi’s aggression, as we saw today, will give the side a Plan B up-front. Not only that, with the concept of middle-over enforcers becoming popular, RR could now potentially deploy both Tyagi and Morris in the 7-15 face to target the opponents’ key batters.
Hot take zone
Manish Pandey the opener is worth persisting with
As if SRH fans didn’t hate Manish Pandey enough already, the management, today, decided that he would be the heir to Warner’s throne. But hear us out, it’s not a terrible option by any means. For a vast majority of his innings today Pandey struggled, yet he struck five boundaries and finished with a SR of 155.0. SRH were 57/0 at the end of the powerplay and had pretty much made full use of the field restrictions. Pandey, prior to this game, had struggled in the powerplay this season but historically he’s been pretty good at exploiting the field restrictions - across 2019 and 2020, he struck at 162.2 in the phase. Pandey’s kryptonite has been his tendency to start slow and his inability to rotate strike in the middle, but providing him the freedom to free his arms up-front will help the 31-year-old construct his innings much better. SRH, at the moment, don’t have the luxury of playing Saha, so persisting with Pandey, and hoping he does a ‘Warner lite’, might be their best bet.
Of course it is him. Of course it is Jos the Boss. After batting like a walking wicket for his first 25 balls, where he looked like he’d never faced leg-spin in his life before, Buttler, mid-way through the innings, transformed into an impregnable beast. His last 95 runs came off 37 balls and yes, if you’ve waited 281 games to score a maiden ton, you might as well make it 124(64).
Match Frenzy O Meter - Fun, except for watching David Warner carry drinks
This was exactly the kind of game that SRH fans were hoping for. To see their team get thrashed; to make the management realize the value of David Warner. A pretty decent game which, you think, both RR and SRH fans would have enjoyed. For completely different reasons of course.