CHENNAI: IN the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League, Jonny Bairstow and David Warner represented the unstoppable force and the immovable object. They frequently turned water into wine and made bowlers look silly. It was their modus operandi to win matches. Set a target? Get Bairstow and Warner on the job. Need to chase down a target? Let the duo do their thing.
It's fair to say things haven't quite worked like that in the opening games of 2020. They have been the stoppable force and the movable object so far. In the first match against Bangalore, the Australian went for 6 (partnership of 18). In the second against Kolkata, Bairstow was out for 5 (partnership of 24).
Against the leaders Delhi Capitals in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the combination knuckled down by sheer force of will. The basement dwellers, the only franchise without a win coming into the match, had sent an SOS message and they answered that call. They survived close calls and played out dot balls -- after 26 balls in the innings, there were 13 dots with just one boundary -- as the pair eschewed their tendency to go after the bowling. To be fair to the Delhi bowlers, they weren't in the mood for charity. There was no width on offer and they bowled a nagging line, especially in the power play. Once again Kagiso Rabada, who is quickly becoming one of the finest T20 operators, was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2/21.
Apart from the openers knuckling down -- their partnership was worth 77 -- the team management also opted to strengthen their flaky middle order by bringing in Kane Williamson for the first time this year. That move paid dividends as the Kiwi was class personified on a pitch where the ball just wasn't coming on to the bat. But those things seldom matter to the New Zealand captain. An all-terrain run-getter, he showcased his full range with one ridiculous drive through covers off Anrich Nortje a highlight.
His 41 and a late flourish from Abdul Samad, an 18-year-old from Kashmir, took Hyderabad to 162. This is comfortably their best batting performance so far this season but is it going to be enough against the might of Delhi?