Four victories from six matches, it’s an ‘A’ grade report card for the new franchise Sunrisers in the IPL-6. Placed at a commendable third in the nine-team league below Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the team owes its success chiefly to their bowlers, who have put up lion-heart performances sometimes even with the bat, too. It has so far been a bowlers’ show in their campaign and it is time their batsmen took up the challenge and responsibility as they face Kings XI Punjab in their third home match at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday night.
It has been a case of small totals for Sunrisers but the bowlers have been successfully pulling the rabbit out of the hat. Their two losses have been against RCB and Kolkata Knight Riders but the team defended or chased small totals against Pune Warriors (twice), RCB and Delhi Daredevils.
With the dashing opener Shikhar Dhawan still recovering from his injury, the Sunrisers are hard-pressed at the top. The repeated failure of Parthiv Patel is a cause of concern. The team, too, has reshuffled the top order but in vain. In the last match against Warriors, new man Quinton de Kock of South Africa came in for Kumar Sangakkara but there was no change in the script. The batsmen have got good starts but are unable to convert those into big scores. It is the lower order batsmen who have often bailed them out. It remains to be seen whether Sangakkara will continue to sit out or whether West Indian skipper Darren Sammy will play.
But the bowling has been outstanding with the likes of Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra, Thisara Perera and Ishant Sharma rising to the occasion. Ashish Reddy and leg spinner Karan Sharma have chipped in with crucial breakthroughs, too. Mishra’s aggression with the ball and stubborn show with the bat has made him the most valuable player of the team.
It is a sort of homecoming for Kings XI’s Adam Gilchrist, Manpreet Gony (last match’s hero against KKR) and Darren Lehmann, who were associated with the defunct Deccan Chargers in some capacity or other as a player or as coach.
Kings XI eked out a narrow win over KKR, thanks to the heroics of Gony. But they too like the Sunrisers have struggling batsmen. The big players have failed to fire, especially Gilchrist. Their bowling unit of Praveen Kumar, Azhar Mahmood, Gony and Piyush Chawla have won them two of the four matches played so far. Hence, tomorrow’s match could be a fight between two bowling units.