The best player in the match – by a country mile – finished on the losing side. Jason Holder was the highest scorer with the bat and had the best bowling figures. But such is the current state of the Sunrisers Hyderabad outfit that nobody else seemed ready to provide any support to their main man. A target of 126 – even if the pitch is not a featherbed – should be a smooth chase on most occasions. But they seemed to have given up on the current season already. Punjab Kings lost their last match which they should have won, but the five-run win at Sharjah on Saturday just about kept them in the reckoning.

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Holder came into the Sunrisers set-up as an injury replacement for Mitchell Marsh, but the tall Barbadian hadn’t always got into the playing XI. When Jonny Bairstow was available and the team management was concerned about the batting, they ended up playing the Englishman along with David Warner and Kane Williamson in the line-up. Rashid Khan is a bona fide match-winner with the ball, and it didn’t leave room for any other overseas player.

The decision-makers took their own time to realise what seemed bleedingly obvious. Holder brings depth to a team with both bat and ball. He made his presence felt – first with the ball – with a spell that put the skids under the Punjab Kings. Figures of 3/19 from four overs will make a tangible difference to the fortunes of any team, especially one down in the dumps like Sunrisers.

Holder pitched the ball relatively up to the bat, but his extra height (he stands at 6-foot-7) meant the ball made contact a bit higher up the willow than was expected. And the slower nature of the wicket resulted in shots going in the air. KL Rahul’s flick found short-midwicket, opening partner Mayank Agarwal’s drive landed in mid-off’s hands while Deepak Hooda’s attempt to raise the tempo towards the end finished in an acrobatic catch at short cover.

Holder could have won it with the bat as well, even after Sunrisers were reduced to 60/5 with seven overs left. His unbeaten 47 off 29 balls – with five sixes – suggested he was playing on an altogether different surface. But nobody else in the team managed a strike rate more than 100.

Needing 17 off the final over bowled by Nathan Ellis, Holder hit a six on the second ball to bring the equation down to 10 off four. But a combination of good death bowling and fatigue came into play even though the West Indian would feel he could have done more with the final ball – a full toss – when six were needed to force a Super Over.

O. U. T! ☝️

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After the duck off three deliveries against Delhi Capitals the other evening, David Warner faced as many balls on Saturday ending up getting two. It was two more than the Aussie looked good enough to get.

Mohammed Shami’s first delivery to the left-hander was on the stumps, and was defended back to the bowler. The next one was around off-stump. Warner tried to force it through the off-side and was lucky an inside edge eluded the stumps and went towards fine-leg for a couple.

The third ball was a short and wide one, which Warner in his prime would have savaged through the covers. But his feet seemed stuck in concrete as a desperate waft only found the toe end of the bat on the way to the wicketkeeper.

In contrast, Williamson always seems composed and in control against the best of bowlers. But the Kiwi maestro was found wanting against Shami on the night. The Indian seamer cramped the Sunrisers skipper and when he bowled a decent length just outside off-stump, Williamson felt an opportunity to break loose. But a hint of movement resulted in an inside edge that crashed into the leg-stump.

Shami’s spell wouldn’t have been out of place on the first morning of a Test match. Figures of 2/5 from his first three overs gave Punjab Kings a chance to defend their sub-par total.

He is on fire 🔥, is not he?

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Indian batsmen are considered good against this skill, but one would cast a doubt on that statement judging by how Sunrisers batsmen played Bishnoi.

Manish Pandey played all around a delivery, predicting it will spin away. Kedar Jadhav chopped one on, trying to late-cut a ball too close for that shot, while Abdul Samad’s heave reached as far as short third-man.

Tushar Bhaduri… read more

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