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Match Analysis

Markande's development helps Sunrisers Hyderabad's jigsaw come together

The legspinner might have been making a comeback, but he had the confidence of performing the role that Adil Rashid does

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
09-Apr-2023
Mayank Markande finished with 4 for 15  •  Associated Press

Mayank Markande finished with 4 for 15  •  Associated Press

Sunrisers Hyderabad might have lost their first two matches, but - and especially after their South African contingent arrived - they always looked like a side that was just a couple of minor adjustments away from being competitive. They needed to create that little spark for ignition because the engine has looked in good health.
Coming to their home ground, Sunrisers made those adjustments. Their batting has looked weak, but their big signing Harry Brook has yet to fire. They wanted to give him the best chance to succeed, so they sent him to open against Punjab Kings in Hyderabad.
Because Brook replaced a wicketkeeper at the top of the order, and because they needed more batting heft, Heinrich Klaasen came in. They needed some hostility and swing with the new ball, so Marco Jansen had to play. Sounds great on paper, but all this wouldn't work if they didn't have an able Indian replacement for Adil Rashid, one of the best limited-overs bowlers in the world.
"It is not a nice move to make," Sunrisers' captain Aiden Markram said of having to leave out Rashid. "But I am super happy for Mayank tonight. He bowled incredibly well. He got his chance, and he certainly took it. A lot of hype about him, and rightly so. Hopefully it is the start of a great competition for him."
Mayank is legspinner Mayank Markande, one of the shining endorsements of Mumbai Indians' scouting back in 2018 who came out of nowhere and started with seven wickets in his first two matches. He hadn't even played first-class cricket at that time. However, as the season progressed, Mumbai realised he had to be handled with care at times, which they could manage because they had two allrounders in the Pandya brothers - Krunal and Hardik.
Since that season, Markande has been in a bit of a T20 wilderness: three matches in 2019, none in 2020, a new team in Rajasthan Royals and one match in 2021, back to Mumbai, and two matches last year. Sunrisers, his third IPL team, must have seen something about his form in the nets when they decided he was the last piece that would make the jigsaw come together.
In the meantime, Markande has been Punjab's main spinner in first-class cricket. That is where he has been able to work on his legbreak with coach Aavishkar Salvi, who played four ODIs for India before going on to coach the Oman bowlers at the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Markande is one of a glut of legspinners - Rahul Chahar, Ravi Bishnoi and M Ashwin are three others - whose stock ball might as well be the wrong'un. Mumbai probably felt he was not quick enough for this style of bowling to work on a consistent basis. However, bowling predominantly the wrong'uns is not going to work in first-class cricket anyway.
And Markande has not been making himself unavailable for first-class cricket. So the legbreak developed there, which has now made the wrong'un more effective.
Markande might have been making a comeback, but he had the confidence of performing the role that Rashid does: go for wickets in the middle overs. In his first over, after having been hit for a boundary, Markande still tossed up a wrong'un at Sam Curran, and the mis-hit gave him only his third IPL wicket since the 2018 edition.
Shahrukh Khan actually did the smart thing to look to play him for the wrong'uns, but Markande ripped the first ball to him past the outside edge. This was the perfect set-up to try a slow wrong'un again. Now he had two wickets in two overs, before he finished the day with 4 for 15.
As with similar legspinners, Markande hardly ever left the stumps. An lbw and a bowled dismissal followed in the next two overs. This performance was a good reminder of the mistake Sunrisers made in the last match by substituting an overseas fast bowler on that slow Lucknow track while they had an Indian legspinner in the reserves.
More than the decision, perhaps the inflexibility jarred more: they didn't even wait to see how the pitch responded to them as they executed the switch in the innings break.
If it had anything to do with a lack of confidence in him, Markande has made sure that won't be the case the next time Sunrisers make a decision that involves him. However, his challenge now is to make sure his performance doesn't taper off now that teams will come back better prepared.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo