Aiden Markram, who is the captain of Sunrisers Hyderabad, was happy with his team’s performance all around after their 8-wicket win over Punjab Kings at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Sunday (April 9). On the night that SRH got their first points of the season, they did a lot of things right, and Markram agreed.
“It’s tough to say what changed (from previous games), but the execution on the field was better tonight,” observed Markram. “We had plans in earlier games too but couldn’t execute them properly. Today, I thought we were on point, especially the bowling performance. We took wickets with the new ball, took wickets in the powerplay and put them under pressure. Then a great spell of spin bowling by Mayank.”
Markram praised SRH’s batting hero, Rahul Tripathi, who overcame an unusually rough start to play a typical counterattacking innings. The game ended with less than three overs left because the two players didn’t break up their stand. At one point, Tripathi was 10/17, but in the next 31 balls he faced, he hit a lot of fours and sixes and scored 64 runs.
“It was Rahul being Rahul. He played an incredible knock today. I did speak to him and he told me that he was struggling to rotate strike initially but once he got a feel of the pitch, he put the bowlers under pressure like he always does. Really happy for him. He takes a lot of pressure off the batting unit and his form is exciting for us as a team,” Markran said.
Given that the game was a sport, the playing surface was interesting. After the first game against Rajasthan Royals, which was a belter, this pitch was better for both bat and ball. The new ball moved around, and the spinners got a hold of it as well. Shikhar Dhawan and Tripathi’s hits showed that if a batter got set, he or she could also play strokes quickly.
“The pitch wasn’t completely flat but it was a much better surface from what we encountered at Lucknow. That was a very tough surface and this appeared to be a much better track for us. I personally felt that it had something in it for everyone. It wasn’t a 140 surface, maybe a bit more but that’s testimony to the way we started with the ball.”
On a night when almost everything went well for the Sunrisers, the decision to start with Harry Brook seemed out of the blue. The Englishman has been on a roll in T20 cricket lately. He usually bats in the middle of the order, but since SRH is still looking for the right combination of overseas players, he was put at the top. Even though the move didn’t work, Markram supported Brook and explained why the promotion was made.
“He has been in great form pretty much wherever he has played in the last 12-18 months. It’s about him freeing himself in the powerplay, hitting cricket shots like he does. He doesn’t play a high risk brand of cricket, he generally just plays normal cricket shots hard and in the gap. So we thought that if he could do that in powerplay, we could maximise it. That was the thinking behind the move.”
We were short by about 30–35 runs: Joshi
The spin bowling coach for the Punjab Kings agreed with Markram about the pitch and said that they should have gotten a lot more than 143/9.
“Wicket was quite good. I think we missed about 35 runs out there. We were about 30-35 runs short,” said Joshi. “Shikhar played an excellent innings and showed why he is such a great batter.”
In a terrible batting performance, Punjab were saved from a major embarrassment by their captain’s unbeaten 99-run knock, which was a key part of the team’s 143-run total. This included a 55-run partnership with Mohit Rathee that didn’t break up until the last wicket. Rathee only added one run to the partnership. Joshi, on the other hand, didn’t think too much about his bad batting and chose to see it as a one-time thing.
“It’s bound to happen. We’re playing back-to-back games and one off day everyone is bound to have. So much travel and practice happens. It’s a large tournament and these are still early days. Hopefully we’ll bounce back.”
Joshi praised fast bowler Arshdeep Singh’s improvement and said that the left-arm seamer’s more aggressive plans were a big part of his success. Even though they didn’t have a big score to defend, Arshdeep bowled a good spell with the new ball and got Harry Brook out.
“Arshdeep upfront has been giving us the breakthroughs in the three games. In the last 12 months, he has improved on his consistency of picking wickets. He hits the hard lengths consistently and that makes him a very attacking bowler.”