SRH players during a training session on Wednesday.
SRH players during a training session on Wednesday.Photo | Sri Loganathan Velmurugan, EPS

IPL 2024: Bowling key as SRH eye play-offs

It’s not that the bowling unit, led by skipper Pat Cummins, has not contributed to the team’s cause.

HYDERABAD: SUNRISERS Hyderabad batters seem on a mission every time they take the field this IPL. Be it setting the biggest IPL totals, not once but twice, or posting the highest playoff score or chasing down a target above 160 under 10 overs.

Their openers, Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, have plundered every bowling unit for runs while scoring at a strike rate of more than 200. Other batters like Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, and Nitish Kumar Reddy are not behind, as they have contributed quick runs to make even the world-class bowlers look ordinary.

Despite the rampaging form of their batters, the Hyderabad franchise is fourth on the points table, managing to win only seven out of 12 matches. With two matches in hand, the 2016 champions have a good chance of qualifying for the play-offs but it’s easier said than done unless their bowlers also come to the party regularly.

It’s not that the bowling unit, led by skipper Pat Cummins, has not contributed to the team’s cause. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, along with all-rounder Reddy and spinners Shahbaz Ahmed and Mayank Markande, have proved more than handy at times but they also fell short on occasions when they were expected to contain runs and choke the opposition.

One look at the tournament statistics till the contest between Delhi Capitals and Lucknow Supergiants on Tuesday, it can be surmised that the SRH bowlers have to pull up their socks if the team wishes to enter the last-four stage.

Till Tuesday, only two teams have conceded more than 10 runs per over during the entirety of the tournament, with Hyderabad bowlers sitting at the top (economy of 10.12), followed by Delhi Capitals (10.10). 

Similarly, the SRH bowling in death overs (17–20) is also a cause for concern. To their relief, Delhi are at the top of the table as far as conceding most runs in the death overs, with an economy rate of 13.37. Hyderabad are second (12.66).

In this phase of the game, the SRH bowlers have given away 553 runs off 262 balls in 12 innings. They conceded 55 fours and 25 sixes while returning with 16 wickets. Only three teams have claimed less than 20 wickets in their matches so far between 17 to 20 overs, with LSG and Royal Challengers Bengaluru being the other two sides.

Simon Helmot, SRH assistant coach, however, said there is no issue with the bowling unit and it’s getting better with each passing day.

“I don’t think there is any issue with it. It’s just the challenging situations they have faced, whether it’s opponents of fairly flat tracks,” Helmot said during the pre-match press conference on the eve of the SRH match against Gujarat Titans here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad.

The assistant coach cited bowlers’ performance in the team’s last outing against Lucknow, wherein the opponents were restricted to 165/4 and said the team was great with bowling changes and assessment of the situation. “Most importantly, we have only gotten better as the season progressed and I hope it continues.”

Given the situation, Cummins, the bowler, has to lead by example when his team play against Gujarat. Bowlers need to start from where they left off against LSG, as their next opponents are already out of the tournament and will have nothing to lose when they play their last match of this IPL season.

Besides, Gujarat skipper Shubman Gill must be hurting from his team’s early exit from the tournament. He along with fellow opener B Sai Sudharsan have already cracked a century each against the Chennai Super Kings before rain abandoned GT’s next match against table-topping Kolkata Knight Riders.

For SRH, the trick is to concede fewer runs and allow the batters to do what they have been doing throughout the season—taking opposition to the cleaners. If the bowlers manage to do that in the powerplay and continue the good work in death overs, SRH can inch closer to the play-off berth by adding two more points to their tally.

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The New Indian Express