Delhi has been backed up by some impressive bowling, none more so than Kagiso Rabada, who has developed as a potent T20 superstar of late.
Half the battle is solved if a team on a downward spiral correctly identifies the issues it needs to sort out. Luckily for David Warner, he already knows what ails Sunrisers Hyderabad.
After their seven-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, he touched upon those. “I think in the middle we went four or five overs with 20,” he said. “Probably killed us a little there. An extra 30-40 runs would have been great. We are going to have to try and go a little harder at the top. Can’t help it if the bowlers are bowling good lines and lengths. Got to lift our boundary lengths. I saw 35-40 dot balls, which is unacceptable.”
Against Delhi Capitals, who have won both their games so far, it could prove to be a deathknell.
Even if it’s a small sample size — Hyderabad are just two matches old in this year’s edition — Warner has a point. Across the 78 balls faced by batsmen from No 4 onwards, they have managed only seven fours and a solitary six.
This serial lack of batting power at the end has already cost them one match, their opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Chasing 164 against one of the league’s more porous bowling attacks, they were well placed at 2/121 after 15.1 overs. At this level, 43 from 29 balls with eight wickets remaining can be classified as a relatively easy chase.
However, after Jonny Bairstow was dismissed, Bangalore asphyxiated the middle order and Hyderabad promptly succumbed.
Therein lies Warner’s problem. Identifying the problem area is just one part of the equation. They don’t necessarily have the tools to course correct, at least in short notice.
They can bring in Kane Williamson at No 3, put Manish Pandey at No 4 and hope one of the top four can bat through the end.
However, that would mean dropping one of the overseas bowlers, something they would rather avoid as both Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan can be good options in Abu Dhabi. Warner will also hope that Bhuvneshwar Kumar starts pulling his weight a bit more. He is yet to pick up a wicket in his eight overs.
Against Delhi, the India pacer can ill afford to do that because they are so top-loaded. And the top-order did find some form on the other night against Chennai Super Kings.
The trio of Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant all scored over 30 with a strike rate of above 125.00. That’s been the one of the main features of Delhi’s two matches so far. Their leading batsmen are in good nick — both Pant and Iyer have come up with handsome contributions in both innings.
Delhi have also been backed up by some impressive bowling, none more so than Kagiso Rabada, who has developed as a potent T20 superstar of late. Across the two matches, he has sent down 21 dots and picked up five wickets at an economy rate of 6.75.
When you combine Rabada’s pace and variations with compatriot Anrich Nortje, who is also pretty high on the dots count (23), it’s a double act that’s pretty hard to counter.
They don’t just attack the pitch but have the quality to consistently touch 140 kmph. It’s why the Chennai batsmen found it tough to get going against them.
Iyer spoke about this combination after their comprehensive win over Chennai. “I am really lucky to have two power-house fast bowlers. You don’t have to tell them what to do.” You almost sense their battle with Warner, Bairstow and Pandey could decide if this match is going to be a contest or not.