Two teams with strong bowling lineups and world-class performers - the Mumbai Indians (MI) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) - faced off at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. In a strange record of sorts, SRH became the first team this season to be restricted to less than 200 runs while batting at the venue.
MI didn't always look like they would get the 208/5 they eventually did. Quinton de Kock's half-century ensured he got back into form. The contributions by Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan were reasonably quick, but both were unable to push on for big scores.
The innings was given impetus by Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard's late striking, but it was Krunal Pandya's four-ball blitz containing two sixes and two fours that took MI into safe territory. Rashid Khan and T Natarajan were very economical, but all other bowlers took some stick.
Is 208 safe at Sharjah? It did not seem to be when Jonny Bairstow started aggressively, with David Warner gaining in confidence at the other end. The issue for SRH was both Bairstow and Manish Pandey departing before making the big scores.
What killed the chase for them was a middle order that failed to really kick on. Youngster Abdul Samad clobbered a few, but the difference between two sides became the extra runs scored by Mumbai towards the end that SRH did not have an efficient enough lower-middle order to get.
The game was set up by two out-of-form batsmen in Warner and De Kock, from both teams. Pandya and Pollard continued their heroics from the previous game, whereas Rashid's run of fine form stretched to another match. However, several players underperformed, and here's a look at the top three.
#3 Kane Williamson (SRH)
Kane Williamson's place in this SRH side is uncertain, despite having been their captain for the previous season. With Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, one of the hottest properties in global T20 leagues, vying for the same place, it is important for Williamson to show his credentials as a middle-order player.
While he has been successful in earlier games, Kane Williamson was unable to put his foot on the pedal when he came in to bat. Coming to the crease when SRH were going at nearly ten an over, Williamson went without striking a boundary.
Facing his countrymate Trent Boult, he went for a ramp to a slower bouncer, merely helping the ball along to the wicketkeeper's gloves. It was a soft dismissal for one of SRH's best batsmen.
#2 Siddarth Kaul (SRH)
SRH have built their name by being an Indian bowling powerhouse, particularly in the pace department. One of their Indian stars over the years has been Siddarth Kaul, whose fine 2018 IPL season saw him pick up as many as 21 wickets.
He overshadowed even India international Bhuvneshwar Kumar at times, but he was unable to play all the games in the previous season as he took 6 wickets from 7 games.
Coming into the XI for the first time this season to replace Bhuvneshwar, Kaul got a rather unfriendly introduction to the Sharjah stadium and the woes of bowlers on the small ground. He was able to scalp two wickets, but the ignominious runs column may haunt him.
While Kaul did take a wicket in the final over of the MI innings, Krunal Pandya dented his figures with 20 off the final four balls.
#1 Rohit Sharma (MI)
Rohit Sharma has had an IPL with mixed results, both in terms of MI's performances and his own form. He has made two fifties, but on three occasions runs have deserted his bat.
This game at Sharjah, which is a dream ground for batsmen, was another opportunity to score big. That opportunity ended up being grabbed by his opening partner today.
The pattern with Rohit's scoring seems to be clear - he scores slowly at the start as he looks to play himself in, and teams have a good chance to mitigate scoreboard damage if they get him within the powerplay.
Starting up front with swing bowler Sandeep Sharma, SRH managed to get the MI skipper's edge on the way to the keeper. Rohit left the field for 6 off 5 within the first over and put some pressure on the incoming Suryakumar Yadav, although the No. 3 was up for it on the day.
Published 04 Oct 2020, 21:49 IST