Even before captain Kane Williamson had gone out for the toss, Sunrisers Hyderabad suffered a blow when their key bowler T Natarajan tested Covid-19 positive while his six other close contacts were isolated.
Their time out in the middle too wasn’t any better as Delhi Capitals played superior cricket on a tricky wicket to win the game by eight wickets at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday. The win also propelled them to the top spot with 14 points from nine matches.
Batting first after winning the toss, Sunrisers were never at ease once they lost former captain David Warner in the very first over of the game to Anrich Nortje (2/12), who bowled with a lot of discipline right through.
Nortje was well supported by his South Africa new-ball partner Kagiso Rabada (3/37), who focused on banging the ball short and struck thrice. Axar Patel (2/21) picked up the prized scalp of skipper Kane Williamson as all that the Sunrisers could manage was a modest 134/9.
Williamson was let off twice, once off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling and the second time off Axar, and both were relatively close chances that Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw spilled. Yet, Williamson couldn’t make use of those reprieves, miscuing one and holing out in the deep, much to the relief of Axar and his teammates.
In reply, Shreyas Iyer (47 not out) in his comeback game, Shikhar Dhawan (42) and captain Pant (35 not out) ensured that even though the pitch seemed two-paced at times, the Capitals didn’t mess it up like Punjab Kings did the other night. The trio concentrated on rotating the strike and unleashed shots only when there was room and width on offer, as the Capitals reached home comfortably with 13 balls to spare.
He lost his captaincy while his spot in India’s T20 World Cup squad too was doubtful as the shoulder injury Shreyas had sustained during the England ODIs in March had kept him out for quite sometime. But in his first game after six months, Shreyas was almost flawless in terms of application and played with a lot of maturity as well.
The pitch looked a tad sluggish too, but Shreyas adjusted his game accordingly, being watchful when needed and taking only calculated risks. Credit should also go to Dhawan, who’s now the top run-getter in the tournament, as his 42 runs were equally crucial behind the Capitals’ victory.
The left-hander played hardly any loose stroke even after the Capitals lost Shaw early, as Shreyas and he batted the way they needed to in conditions that weren’t ideal for batting.
In other words, the 52-run second-wicket stand between Dhawan and Shreyas made the equation pretty much favourable when Pant arrived at the crease.
For the bottom-placed Sunrisers, they did miss Natarajan as the wicket could well have suited his kind of bowling.
Return to competitive cricket after almost five monthscouldn’t have been worse for Warner, who perished in just the third ball of the game.
Nortje made it even worse for Warner when he pitched one on a good length that moved just a shade away, taking a leading edge off the left-hander’s bat that was easily taken at point.
Along with Warner’s rough patch, what would also worry Australia is the left hamstring injury sustained by all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who went off the field after bowling only 1.1 overs.