Sunrisers Hyderabad experienced the full-180 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The scene of their crowning glory in 2016 was also the venue for their quiet exit in the eliminator this year. Rain played a big part in the champions’ exit. But so did the pitch, which as it turned out, had turned 180 on its own. Asked to bat first by Gautam Gambhir, SRH managed only 128 – 80 runs short of what they’d managed in last year’s final. Even that, according to bowling coach Muttiah Muralitharan, could have proved to be a par score, had rain not forced a truncation.
“Overall, Bangalore wicket has been low-scoring. 130, I thought, was par,” he said. “Across 20 overs, we had a chance of defending it. The surface was up and down. But this is part and parcel of the game. They won the toss, so they deserved to win.”
Sunrisers are part of a minority of T20 sides world wide to have embraced the bat-first ploy. So when SRH meandered to 30 for 1 in the PowerPlay, there were no panic buttons pressed. David Warner and Kane Williamson quietly added a half-century stand before both fell within three balls of each other to leave the score at 75 for 3 in the 13th over. Their conservative approach on a “tough wicket” had kept SRH stable but their dismissal had thrown the gates open for KKR’s slow bowlers to hammer home the advantage.
“The wicket is not great to play shots. We would’ve been bowled out for 70-80 if we tried to play shots. We were thinking of 140 and finished 10 short because they bowled well. We had the bowling to defend it across 20 overs. We’ve seen how teams have defended 130-135 here. Unfortunate the rain came, we can’t complain.”
Warner was a little more upfront in his assessment of the wicket. “It was a disappointing wicket. Tough to bat on. It was holding up a bit and we got no momentum,” he said. “We have been talking to other players from RCB. But we fell short with the bat. There’s not much you can talk about. Six overs game become niggly and the total can be low. We needed to come out with positive intent and we took three wickets upfront. Not enough runs on the board.”
Notwithstanding their exit on a rain-marred encounter, both Warner and Muralitharan found enough reasons to classify their season a success. Just by progressing past the playoffs, Sunrisers had done better than what KKR and Mumbai Indians achieved most recently in the seasons immediately following a title triumph, in 2015 and 2016. At an individual level, Warner (641 runs) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (26 wickets) continue to lead the batting and bowling charts respectively. Afghan spinner Rashid Khan (17 wickets) was a revelation while the likes of Vijay Shankar, Siddarth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj came good on their promise.
“We are all disappointed at not getting through, but very happy [with the way] we have performed whole season,” Muralitharan said. “I’m very happy, coaches are happy. Some great performances came, unfortunately every time you can’t win. We made sure we gave our best and our best was not good enough.
“We didn’t expect it to rain today but we had a great season. The batsmen played well, the bowlers who we picked at the auction did well. Eight wins and five losses before this. It doesn’t always go your way. We will take it on the chin.”