Two teams with contrasting fortunes so far will go head to head in Match 11 of IPL 2020, in Abu Dhabi. On one end are Delhi Capitals, the current table-toppers with two wins in as many games, on the other are Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are looking confused about their team combination.
Let’s be honest, Hyderabad have always been a top-heavy side with a weak middle-order. This is never a secret. David Warner and Jonny Bairstow did all the work for them last year scoring truckload of runs which made the job of Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar and Mohammad Nabi that much easier.
But one can’t realistically expect the openers to fire every game. They haven’t collectively in the two games so far and the middle-order has been exposed. Hyderabad losing two successive games is not the concerning factor, the absolute cluelessness of the batters 4, 5 and 6 is.
In the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Hyderabad chasing a subpar 164 were cruising on 121/2 in the 15th over. The set batsman Bairstow fell and all hell broke loose. Hyderabad lost 8 wickets for just 32 runs to go down by 10 runs. The second match against Kolkata Knight Riders was even more painful to watch. Batting first, Hyderabad this time lost Bairstow early and once Warner fell for 36, the innings went nowhere as they could only muster 142/4 in their 20 overs.
Which begs the question:
Is it time for Hyderabad to slot Williamson in the middle-order?
The short answer, yes! Without meaning any disrespect, if you have Wriddhiman Saha coming into bat at No.4, you are not going to win too many T20 games.
Williamson’s inclusion not just sorts the middle-order conundrum to an extent, it also serves as a morale booster for the rest of the batsmen to follow. An international captain who has been so successful all over the globe is likely to help in crunch situations slightly better than someone of lesser repute.
The other, and probably one of the most important things as to why Williamson should be included for Match 11 is his impeccable record against Delhi. Since 2017, no other batsman in the IPL has scored runs against Delhi than Williamson, 259 runs in 6 innings at an average of 64.75. While Bairstow and Warner have in the past shown susceptibility against quality pace, Williamson has no such issues.
Remember, Delhi have Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje in their ranks, and Williamson could help to negate their threat.
Need for a hard-hitting finisher
Hyderabad, have so far in the two games played Priyam Garg in their playing XI. While no one is questioning the 19-year-old’s talents, having him slotted at No.5 or No.6 in the batting order serves no purpose. Garg is of a classical mould and does not have too many big shots in his repertoire, which is generally the need of the hour by the time he gets to bat.
So, isn’t better to have someone like a Virat Singh or Abdul Samad in the setup who have the ability to clear the ropes at will?
Time for Shimron Hetmyer to shine?
It is still very much early days in the competition but Shimron Hetmyer has looked a bit out of sorts not just with the bat, also on the field. In the two games so far, he has scored just 7 runs and dropped two relatively easy chances in the outfield.
However, Hetmyer has a good record against Hyderabad having scored 84 runs against them in the 2 outings last season. That should keep him in good stead going into the match.
The left-hander is in some ways the only missing puzzle in Delhi’s batting line-up. Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis have all shown impressive form so far and if Hetmyer can also get going, Hyderabad better watch out.
Which way will the pendulum swing?
On paper, Delhi definitely go into Match 11 of IPL 2020 as firm favourites. Their openers, Shaw and Dhawan are in prime form, while Iyer, Pant and Stoinis too have looked in good touch. Pant and Iyer, in particular, have a terrific record against Hyderabad’s No.1 spinner Rashid Khan and that could define the match.
Delhi’s bowlers have certainly looked the part. Rabada and Nortje were exemplary in the match against Chennai, while Axar Patel and Amit Mishra too were superb. In short, Delhi seem like a team with all bases covered.
The same though can’t be said about Hyderabad. While their batsmen have lacked the touch, the bowlers seem to be off-colour. Rashid has not yet found himself going while Bhuvneshwar Kumar too looks underwhelming.
All in all, it will take a lion-hearted effort backed by some changes in the team for Hyderabad to get past Delhi.
Hyderabad’s unpredictability makes it very tough to pick a probable XI. They have to sort a number of combinations, mostly in the batting unit. They might bring in Kane Williamson in place of Mohammad Nabi while Abdul Samad could come in place of Priyam Garg.
David Warner(c), Jonny Bairstow (w), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Wriddhiman Saha, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan
Why change a winning combination? With R Ashwin still out for 2-3 games, Delhi are unlikely to make any changes to their side.
Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (w), Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan