David Warner played an unusual innings today, scoring 37 off 32 balls without once finding the boundary. How did he end up with a strike rate of 115.62 without hitting a single four or six? Partly it was due to luck - six of his runs came via overthrows. It was also partly due to a key - and underappreciated - skill he possesses.
Few in the world are as adept as Warner is at finding gaps between outfielders to pick up twos and threes. It's a skill picked up from playing much of his early cricket on vast Australian outfields, and it serves him extremely well on the larger IPL grounds, such as the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, his home ground, or the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the venue for today's match.
Overall, 12.43% of Warner's runs in the IPL have come in twos and threes - it's the highest percentage among the tournament's top five run-getters. He usually combines this with regular boundary-hitting. Today he couldn't pull off the bigger hits, but he managed to pick up 15 of his 37 runs in twos and threes.
Royals gift away precious runs
The first ball set the tone. David Warner was unsure whether to play or leave Varun Aaron's delivery outside off stump, and the ball slid off the face of his indecisive bat, towards Liam Livingstone at backward point. The batsmen chanced a quick single. Livingstone threw flat and hard at the striker's end, and missed. Kane Williamson would have been home in any case, and the ball ran away for four overthrows.
First ball of the next over, Livingston conceded two more overthrows, flicking a needless throw, with no one backing up close in, from backward point. Next ball, Aaron misfielded at the third-man boundary to give away four runs when only a single was on.
It was an epidemic, and Rajasthan Royals' fielding was sloppy throughout Sunrisers Hyderabad's innings. In all, Royals conceded 20 runs via misfields and overthrows, according to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data. On one of the lower-scoring grounds in the IPL, the difference between 160 and 140 isn't insignificant.
Sunrisers fail to push on, yet again
The difference between 160 and 180 is just as significant, and Sunrisers' inability to build on a pretty good start - they were 103 for 1 at the 12-over mark - cost them those potential extra runs. From the 13th to the 19th overs, Sunrisers only scored 39 runs, at 5.57 per over, while losing six wickets. It was only thanks to Rashid Khan's late hitting in a final over worth 18 runs that they even got to 160.
It was all very familiar. Sunrisers have had middle-order issues for a number of years now, and this season has been no different, with a number of promising starts fizzling away and turning into below-par totals. In the second half of innings (overs 11 to 20) this season, they have the worst average (18.44) and the second-worst run rate (8.27), behind only Chennai Super Kings (8.12).
Chennai Super Kings qualify
Tonight's result ensures that Chennai Super Kings have become the first team through to this season's playoffs. They've now finished in the top four on the league table in every season of the IPL.
Super Kings have 16 points, and as things stand, only three other teams can now get to 16 or more. Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, who both have 14 points from 11 games, are two of those teams. Sunrisers and Kings XI Punjab have 10 points from 11 matches each, but they still have another meeting with each other, so only one of them can get to 16.
Kolkata Knight Riders, Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore can each only achieve a maximum of 14 points.