Before the start of the Indian Premier League 2017, if one had to make a list of the title contenders in the order of strongest to weakest challengers, Sunrisers Hyderabad would have made it among the strongest two. Throughout the season, they never seemed out of title contention and fell short only in the Eliminator against Kolkata Knight Riders – a contest marred by a long rain delay.
They had the top two performers of IPL 10 in their ranks – captain David Warner and bowling spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Together, they made their home ground – Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium – a fortress and only Rising Pune Supergiant were able to breach it once.
Their away performance wasn’t much to write about. They lost four, won two and one failed to produce any result. But the manner of their exit must have hurt them because there wasn’t much they could have done after rain delay had cut down KKR’s chase to 48 runs in six overs. Although, they were one of the most consistent sides, slipping on couple of important occasions probably became the difference between yet another successful season and a playoff exit.
SRH were nearly unbeatable at home this season before RPS, broke their run of run of five consecutive wins at Uppal. In their tournament opener, they faced Royal Challengers Bangalore and defended 207 to win by 35 runs. Gujarat Lions, Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Daredevils and KKR followed but all fell flat before Jaydev Unadkat’s hat-trick helped Pune Supergiant to complete a double against SRH. The other team that came close to returning with a win in Hyderabad this year were bottom-dwellers KXIP who fell short in a chase of 160 by just five runs.
No doubt, the Eliminator. Nothing went right for them against KKR in Bengaluru. Losing toss on a slow track, inclement weather and then the dreadful Duckworth Lewis System that has been beneficial to the chasing team. After they failed to secure a top-two finish, SRH faced KKR in the Eliminator at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. And their batsmen struggled to score after being put in to bat first.
Even their star batsman Warner had to grind for his 37 runs. They had seven wickets in the bank for the final five overs but Nathan Coulter-Nile made sure they finished 10-20 runs short of what could have been a competitive total. To make things interesting rain delayed KKR’s chase by 2.5 hours and when the game finally resumed, as per DLS, the former two-time champions were left to chase 48 from six overs. A batting failure in an all-important encounter will itch them for few days to come.
641 runs, a century, four half-centuries and an average of 58.27. Warner continues to be SRH’s batting stalwart. For two seasons in a row, he has been their leading run-getter and a dominant force at the top. As SRH coach Tom Moody recently said, Warner relishes captaincy and it’s reflecting on his own performance.
He has been setting examples for others to follow. His breath-taking 126 against KKR is the highest individual score of the season so far. He was ready to experiment and take risks, and this holds true not just for his batting but also when marshalling his bowlers and setting the field.