New Delhi: Just like best of the boxers use combination punches to stun their opponents, SRH also employed a combination of spin and pace to deflate RR (Rajasthan) on Monday night at Uppal in Hyderabad.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan and India pacer Siddarth Kaul picked two wickets apiece but more importantly, it was their tight bowling and a miserly economy that hurt Rajasthan, restricting them to an underwhelming 125/9. Both bowlers conceded just 40 runs in 8 overs to take the wind out of RR's sails.
In reply, SRH batsmen Shikhar Dhawan (77 off 57 balls) and Kane Williamson (36 off 35 balls) batted in contrasting fashion making a mockery of the total and crossing the finish line with 4.1 overs to spare. Dhawan struck 13 boundaries and a six to demolish the RR bowling while Williamson played second fiddle to ensure there was no pressure building up from his end.
While the entire SRH bowling unit put Hyderabad in control of the match, a lot of credit must go to the attacking mindset of their new skipper Kane Williamson. The Kiwi at no point was looking to go defensive and used his resources beautifully and effectively to mount the pressure on RR batters. He was equally brilliant in the field as he ran D'Arcy Short out in the first over to dent RR.
Williamson's every move, each bowling change was precise and measured, and at no point in Rajasthan's innings, the batsmen breathed easy. Even if the set Sanju Samson took the charge, Williamson always seemed to be a step further introducing the best of his bowlers to force him to work his way for runs.
The moment RR batsmen collected runs against pacers, Williamson introduced Shakib against two right-handers to cut down on the pace. He made it a point that he saved Rashid for Ben Stokes, who had a history of getting out against leg-spinners. Some research huh!!. In terms of completeness of a bowling unit, SRH ticked all the boxes as they had variety needed to get ten wickets.
For that matter, bowlers also didn't disappoint Williamson and bowled with a varied approach. The Uppal wicket supported steep bounce and Kaul made full use of it. He wisely used the bouncer to get away with one or two deliveries but otherwise kept it flush between the corridor. He forced the batsmen to have a charge at him but then cramped them for space very often. Having given the ball in the sixth over, Kaul got Rahane at deep square-leg as the frustrated Rajasthan skipper tried manufacturing a flick from just short of a length.
Similarly, Shakib varied his pace in the powerplay and he too didn't offer much width. His prowess with the new ball was seen at the recently concluded Nidahas T20 trophy in Sri Lanka, in which he finished his spells economically. Also, his sidearm action and the different release points kept the batsmen guessing whether the ball will spin or zip through.
RR had huge expectations from Ben Stokes but Williamson knew how to keep him silent. He first introduced Rashid Khan who surprised him with his googlies. The next over, the Kiwi was aware that any slow or medium fast bowler can be buckled by Stokes as his crease play had been his strong points. So Stanlake was brought in to surprise Stokes with pace. And the ploy worked. Once Stanlake zipped past the English all-rounder twice, Stokes went for a hoick and found the fielder at long-on. Rajasthan were in trouble and the responsibility rested on Samson's shoulders.
Once Samson and Rahul Tripathi began to develop a stand, Williamson brought Shakib back in. The reason was their prowess against pace and even Rashid's pace was aiding to their plan. Tripathi had guided him through third man for a couple of fours and only Shakib could have forced them to use their might.
The Bangladeshi struck as soon as he was given the ball with his slow flighted delivery with Tripathi holing out to long-on. The desperation to put on a big total also hurt RR's cause as they could never follow a plan.
Two balls later, Shakib tricked Samson to push RR to the wall. With the tail being signalled, Williamson brought in his quick bowlers who tested the lower-order by hitting the deck hard. Kaul doubled his tally by surprising K Gowtham with disconcerting bounce. RR's last resort was Jos Buttler who too experienced a soft dismissal, failing to decipher a Rashid googly. Buttler's dismissal proved to be the last nail in RR's coffin.