With first-choice captain David Warner not playing this season after a one-year ban from Cricket Australia for his role in the recent ball-tampering scandal, Sunrisers Hyderabad named Kane Williamson captain for IPL 2018. There was widespread concern over how SRH would fare without Warner, but Williamson’s captaincy and batting (he leads the run charts with 688) ensured that the Australian was not really missed. Despite losing their last three matches of the league stage, SRH went into the play-offs as No. 1 on the points table.
SRH’s bowling spoke for itself even before a ball was bowled, and true to reputation, the entire unit proved the bowling attack of the tournament. Rashid Khan and Siddarth Kaul each have 21 wickets heading into Sunday’s final against Chennai Super Kings, and there have been fine supporting roles from Shakib Al Hasan and Sandeep Sharma.
Here’s how SRH made it this far.
1st match v RR in Hyderabad – Won by 9 wickets
How good their bowling was going to be this season was put on display in Sunrisers’ opening game, in which all five bowlers combined to keep Rajasthan Royals to 125/9. Shakib (2/23), Kaul (2/17) and Rashid (1/23) were exemplary in choking the RR batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan (78* off 57 balls) and Williamson (36* off 35) completed a facile chase in 15.5 overs.
2nd match v MI in Hyderabad – Won by 1 wicket
The narrowest win of the season, with one wicket in hand and off the final ball of the game. Good work from Rashid (1/13, Kaul (2/29) and Sandeep (2/25) kept the defending champions to 147/8, but the brittleness in SRH’s batting was exposed. Only Dhawan (45 off 28) looked dominating as SRH stumbled to 107/5 and then lost four wickets for one run to slump to 137/9. Deepak Hooda’s 32 and a fortuitous 5 to Billie Stanlake completed a scarcely believable victory.
3rd match v KKR in Kolkata – Won by 6 wickets
The bowlers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 3/26 and 2/21 from Shakib, were excellent in restricting Kolkata Knight Riders to 138/8. A few jitters ensued as the batsmen struggled, but Williamson’s 50 off 44 balls and Shakib’s 21-ball 27 settled the chase before Yusuf Pathan smashed 17 off seven balls to finish the game.
4th match v KXIP in Chandigarh – Lost by 15 runs
In a superb execution of T20 bating, Chris Gayle showed that Sunrisers’ attack could be hit – and in striking three successive sixes off Rashid he made a telling statement. Gayle’s unbeaten 104 pushed KXIP to 193/3 which was out of reach for SRH, for whom only Williamson (54) and Manish Pandey (57*) made scores of note.
5th match v CSK in Hyderabad – Lost by 4 runs
The bowling was again not as effective, with Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu playing very fine innings on a tough surface to get CSK to 182/3, and the batting frailties again came to the fore. From 22/3, that SRH came close was down to Williamson who made a very fine 84 and cameos from Yusuf (45 off 27 balls) and Rashid (17* off four).
6th match v MI in Mumbai – Won by 31 runs
A match from which SRH would have taken immense belief in their very crafty bowling attack. Bowled out for 118 in 18.4 overs, all six bowlers combined beautifully to skittle Mumbai Indians for 87 in 18.5 overs. Sandeep (1/9) started the job, after which Kaul (3/23), Rashid (2/11) and Basil Thampi (2/4) pulled the ground from under the opposition’s feet.
7th match v KXIP in Hyderabad – Won by 13 runs
Another low-scorer went SRH’s way, courtesy the bowlers. From 27/3, Manish Pandey (54), Shakib (28) and Yusuf (21) got the score to 132/6 which, and given how SRH bowled out MI for 87, it looked a good total despite Gayle being part of the opposition. Sure enough, KXIP were bowled out for 119 in 19.2 overs with Rashid (3/19), Sandeep (2/17), Shakib (2/18) and Thampi (2/14) all playing leading roles.
8th match v RR in Jaipur – Won by 11 runs
Debutant Alex Hales (45) and Williamson (63) paved the way for a strong total, but a collapse of four wickets for 17 runs meant that SRH finished on 151/7. As it turned out, this was a winning total. Ajinkya Rahane batted 20 overs for 65 off 63 balls, struggling to dominate the bowlers, and once RR slipped to 96/4 in 14 overs the chase was over.
9th match v DD in Hyderabad – Won by 7 wickets
Barring Rashid (2/23), the SRH bowlers were not as potent as usual and this allowed Delhi Daredevils to make 163/5. Still, contributions from Hales (45), Dhawan (33), Williamson (32*) and Yusuf (27* off 12) saw them home in a close contest – SRH won with one ball remaining.
10th match v RCB in Hyderabad – Won by 5 runs
Some quality bowling from Tim Southee and Mohammed Siraj contributed to SRH being bowled out for 146, which meant that their attack would have to do something very special to curb Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Royal Challengers Bangalore looked settled at 74/2 in the tenth over, but once Shakib extracted Kohli the jitters set in. In the next over, Rashid bowled de Villiers and in the following over, Moeen Ali was dismissed by Kaul. Despite some good hitting from Mandeep Singh and Colin de Grandhomme, RCB ended up five runs short.
11th match v DD in Delhi – Won by 9 wickets
The innings of the tournament from Rishabh Pant, who smashed 15 fours and seven sixes in an unbeaten 128 off 63 balls, in which he hit 70 runs in 24 balls from Rashid and Bhuvneshwar, was overshadowed by an astonishingly comfortable SRH chase. Set a target of 188, the visitors eased home thanks to an unbroken stand of 176 between Dhawan (92* off 60) and Williamson (83* off 58).
12th match v CSK in Pune – Lost by 8 wickets
Dhawan (79) and Williamson (51) did well to get SRH to 179/4 but on the day it was a losing total. CSK romped home in 19 overs thanks to Shane Watson’s breezy 59 and a maiden IPL century from Ambati Rayudu who finished the job with 100* off 62 balls.
13th match v RCB in Bengaluru – Lost by 14 runs
RCB, needing a win to stay alive, pummelled SRH’s bowling to the tune of 218/6 with de Villiers (69 off 39), Moeen (65 off 34), de Grandomme (40 off 17) and Sarfaraz Khan (22* off eight) all enjoying themselves. Once again it was Williamson (81) who kept them in the hunt, but the total was too far for SRH.
14th match v KKR in Hyderabad – Lost by 5 wickets
A hat-trick of defeats closed to the league stage, but SRH still went into the play-offs on top of the points table. A total of 172/9 was made short work of as Chris Lyn, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik took KRR to victory with two balls remaining.
After losing four wickets inside seven overs, SRH were pushed to 139/7 by Carlos Braithwaite’s 29-ball 43 not out, and then their pace bowlers and Rashid rocked CSK to leave them in tatters at 62/6. It was then that South African captain Faf du Plessis calmly guided them home with an unbeaten 67 from 42 balls, a stunning innings that came when CSK needed 43 runs from three overs.
SRH were looking like they’d end up on another middling total, but Rashid’s stunning 34 not out off 10 balls ensured a finish of 174/7. That gave the bowlers plenty of lift, and once wickets started to fall the SRH stamp was all over this game. Rashid’s excellent performance saw him grab 3/19 to consign KKR to defeat and put SRH in the final.
Jeh Kumar is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals.