IPL 2024 – SRH vs CSK – Abhishek Sharma – ‘We knew we had to take the powerplay on’

Abhishek Sharma put his powerplay bash – he scored 37 in 12 balls and was dismissed in the third over – against Chennai Super Kings down to his observations about the Hyderabad surface, which he expected to slow down once the ball got old.

“While bowling, we felt that it was a bit [of a] slow wicket. So we knew that somehow if we take the powerplay on, then we could just go with the flow after that,” Abhishek, the Player of the Match in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s six-wicket win, told the host broadcaster after the game. “We had a chance to prepare well before the IPL. We knew it was going to be a bit slow. But not much. If we take on the bowler, it is difficult for the bowler as well.”

It was Abhishek’s second Player-of-the-Match award, after he had taken home the trophy following his 23-ball 63 against Mumbai Indians.

Aiden Markram, who took over after Abhishek fell and scored a calm 36-ball 50, echoed his team-mates’ thoughts. “We saw when we bowled the first ten overs [that] it was coming on all right. And after that, it got tougher and tougher [to score quickly on]. When we batted, we really looked to take on that first ten and hopefully get into a good enough position from there,” he said. “In the powerplay, you have seen now for long enough that teams have taken it on and that’s the right way to go.”

The fresh strip made life challenging for the batters at a venue where batting records were broken for fun barely a week before when SRH took on Mumbai Indians. On Friday, sent into bat, CSK reached 84 for 2 after the ten-over mark. But once the ball got older, run-scoring became tough, and the SRH quicks slowed it down while also getting their lengths right.

CSK got just 50 runs in their last seven overs and lost three wickets in the process – it was only Shivam Dube’s 24-ball 45 that got them a decent total.

“Luckily, we have got plenty of fast bowlers. Shivam was hitting them pretty well against spin, so I thought we’ll take the chance with a few offcutters,” Pat Cummins said of his team’s tactics. It worked well, as Cummins, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat, of the quicks, went at under eight an over, and T Natarajan, the fourth quick, conceded runs at a respectable 9.75.

“In the back-end, they bowled really well, kept the game under control,” Ruturaj Gaikwad, Cummins’ counterpart, said. “In the last five overs, we couldn’t capitalise. To start off, we were pretty much in a good situation, 80 [84] for 2 at the halfway stage. But they came back and bowled really well at the back end.

“As the ball got older, it got slower and slower and we couldn’t capitalise at the end, plus they used the conditions really well.”

CSK’s hopes of defending 165 were quickly blown away by Abhishek and Travis Head, who added 46 for the opening wicket in 16 balls. Head was dropped off the second ball of the innings by Moeen Ali at slip off Deepak Chahar, and Abhishek whacked Mukesh Choudhary for 27 runs in the second over. There was no coming back for CSK from there.

“I think 170-175 was still a par score given we would have had a great powerplay to start off in the bowling department,” Gaikwad said. “But we didn’t have a great powerplay with one catch dropped and one big over. To drag the game till the 18th over was a great effort.”

Markram took the game forward, first adding 60 runs with Head and then a run-a-ball 26 with Shahbaz Ahmed. SRH slowed down in the middle overs, but the platform made life easier for them as they got over the line with 11 balls to spare.

“As the ball got a little bit older and softer, it started to slow up and take a little bit of spin and obviously it got a little bit tougher,” Markram said. “When you get on a tricky wicket, you still have to value the in-batter, you need to value that position.”

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