One of the biggest learning midway through an open-ended season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), is that the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s well-oiled bowling unit thrives on role-playing. The success and effectiveness of their bowlers has been the subset of the team’s five victories in the season so far.
Such has been the efficiency levels of the Sunrisers’ bowling plans in their victories, that David Warner hasn’t been hard-pressed to reach out to a Plan B as yet. In his ideal world, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashish Nehra start the proceedings with copious amounts of swing and Mustafizur Rahman, the 20-year-old Bangladesh pacer who has taken to the tournament like a champion, plays a bigger role at the death. “The ideal circumstance with Fizz (Mustafizur) is bowling one in the first six and three in the end. He’s a very, very good death bowler and that’s his art I can bank on. It’s almost like a Mitchell Starc. With the new ball he’s very dangerous and then at the end, it’s very hard to score runs,” Warner had earlier said.
“If you look at me and Ashish Nehra, we are swing bowlers. The captain wants us to swing the ball at the start and take wickets, which is our strength. If you look at Mustafizur, he is the kind of bowler who bowls good yorkers and slower balls. That’s because of his different action. So everybody knows their role – I know that I need to get wickets upfront, Nehra knows what to do and Mustafizur knows he needs to bowl one or two overs in the Powerplay and then come back later on. The good thing is everyone is clear with his plan and what their role is,” Bhuvneshwar said in a post-match press conference on Friday (May 6).
The clarity of plan also includes the likes of Moises Henriques and Barinder Sran coming on after the powerplay to complement the efforts made by Bhuvneshwar, Nehra and Mustafizur up front. Warner’s second line of bowlers have done a decent job thus far, not letting momentum slip away. On Friday too, the duo picked up a wicket each and further dented an already stuttering batting effort from their opposition. Bhuvneshwar insists their success is also an integral part of the grand scheme of role-playing.
“There is no instruction (given to them). It’s a role-playing game, so they know their roles. Today we got three wickets in the Powerplay, so their role was to take wickets because that’s the only way to put pressure. If there is one wicket or no wicket in the Powerplay they know that they have to stop the runs so that’s how the bowling pattern is going on.
In this day and age, teams take along a video analyst who provides a useful source for teams to not just head back to the drawing board and assess their own performances, but also look for flaws in that of the opposition. On Friday, Sunrisers applied the ultimate choke on the runs flow by bowling exceptional line and lengths and moving the field around rather immaculately, managing to defy the Lions’ batsmen for the second time this season. “That’s (field placements) pretty much from video analysis from what we see on TV. We know where they play the shot mostly so we try to put the fielder back there, so we can save boundary or we can give singles. If you look once or twice in the game we took the fielder back and the ball went there. So that was part of a plan,” Bhuvneshwar revealed.
It was Bhuvneshwar’s excellent first over – a maiden – that allowed Sunrisers to put pressure on the visitors as early as possible. The 26-year-old began with a couple of deliveries that swung into the right-handed Dwayne Smith and then smartly got the ball to shape away. The West Indian was all at sea, getting beaten on numerous occasions in the first six deliveries. The ploy of mixing up his swing, Bhuvneshwar revealed, was part of a pre-match strategy.
“It was part of a plan. Before coming to the match, we always have a meeting and we make some plans for each and every batsman. I must say that was part of a plan to bowl what to which batsman. I cannot say about a particular batsman. But I must say that every batsman has a weakness in inswingers or outswingers or bouncers or whatever that thing is, so you always try to bowl on that weakness so they have less chance [to] score runs,” he said.