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Match Analysis

Sunrisers' self-destruct sequence

They went from 69 for 1 to 85 for 5 in 22 deliveries, with the batters unsure of what their best scoring options were, or if they even existed

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
25-Apr-2023
Sunrisers Hyderabad came into this game having recorded three of the four innings with the fewest boundaries in IPL 2023. They've now upped it to four of six.
According to ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball data, in Monday's chase of 145 against Delhi Capitals, they attempted just 11 attacking shots in the first 90 deliveries.
The conditions were tough. The pitch started slow and only got slower as the game went on. David Warner used to be the Hyderabad local boy not so long ago. He must have known. It's why he chose to bat at the toss.
Capitals themselves were 62 for 5. They lost three wickets in one over, all to attacking shots, all to spin. Forcing the pace here wasn't fun. But even so, Sunrisers' innings just had no rhythm. Their opener made 7 off 14. Their No. 3 fell for 15 off 21.
Aiden Markram was asked to assess the rapid unscheduled disassembly of his side and he didn't hold back.
"Not good with the bat again," he said at the presentation. "Not enough intent. Looked a team that was not excited to win a game of cricket unfortunately. We'll have to go back and see how we can chase better, be more free as a team, be more free a unit and hopefully that can help us going forward."
Markram went on to suggest something slightly disturbing - that his side simply isn't playing according to plan, which is way more cause for worry than one little loss.
"You can say all the right things but ultimately guys need to buy into it," he said. "We wanna play a certain brand of cricket and if we get it wrong doing that, I think we'll sleep a lot better at night. But unfortunately tonight just lacked a bit of intent. The guys need to work out what brings out the best in them and makes them the most free, ultimately, to play.
"We've got really good players and really good batters and unfortunately I think we're just letting ourselves down through lack of intent."
A little bit of this is self-inflicted.
Harry Brook was bought in the auction to be the enforcer in their middle order, the one weakness that has followed them year on year. But his first few innings in the IPL proved that he wasn't finding fluency starting out against the old ball. So they pushed him up the order. And he hit a hundred. But even in that innings, he struggled against spin.
So now they have a No. 5 at No. 1 which meant their usual No. 1 was down at No. 5. Abhishek Sharma was injured at the start of the Sunrisers campaign, and by the time he was fit again, Sunrisers had decided they would trust Brook up the order, and have Mayank Agarwal partner him, and use Abhishek's left-handedness and his natural talent for spin-hitting through the middle overs. These aren't the worst ideas in the world, but they are yet to pan out, in the same way their decision to take the chase deep didn't pan out.
For that to happen, one set batter had to stay right to the end. That was supposed to be Agarwal. He made a lot of his runs square on the off side, and that typically doesn't happen on slow pitches. He was somehow able to hold his shape for long enough to get away some sumptuous square drives. Then suddenly he was gone. And as is common in a chase on turning tracks, the new batters struggled to get a feel for it, the pressure to hit a big shot got to them, and poof, one wicket triggered a whole collapse.
Sunrisers went from 69 for 1 to 85 for 5 in 22 deliveries.
The situation was actually tenable when Agarwal fell. But the other batter, Rahul Tripathi, was 15 off 21. And Warner might just have pulled off a little coup when he brought Ishant Sharma on at that point. Seeing pace back, Tripathi went for a big on-the-up drive and was caught behind. This meant the Capitals spinners, who had been brilliant all through, could prey on two new batters at the crease.
Axar (2-21) and Kuldeep (1-22) bowled 14 dots in 48 deliveries, and only two went to the boundary. They've had lots of practice in these conditions. They knew, instantly, that if they dropped their pace down and bowled wicket to wicket, the batters wouldn't be able to hit them off the square. Especially a set who looked so unsure of what their best scoring options were. Or if they even existed.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo