Kane Williamson: Leading the Orange Army from the front
The Sunrisers Hyderabad campaign got off to a terrible start even before the IPL kicked off. Their inspirational skipper and opening batsman David Warner was suspended prior to the tournament. However, what has happened since has been remarkable, all thanks to Kane Williamson.
Kane took over as captain with Alex Hales being named as Warner’s replacement. He has led from the front scoring 410 runs in 10 matches with a healthy average of 51.25. He has scored five half-centuries in the process and thus, this has been his best IPL return. He has marshalled his troops well & has mastered the art of defending totals. The bowlers have been utilized well with the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, and Rashid Khan, all contributing in key conjunctures throughout the tournament.
The Sunrisers started the IPL with an easy win over the Ajinkya Rahane led Rajasthan Royals. Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson took the Orange Army home with nine wickets to spare, chasing a modest 126. In the following game against the Mumbai Indians, they chased down 147 off the last ball of the innings with just one wicket in hand. A fifty from Kane ensured they beat KKR by 5 wickets to make it 3 wins in a row.
Their winning start to the campaign came to an end when they came across the “Universal Boss” Chris Gayle. His 104 off 63 balls ensured that Kings XI Punjab beat SRH to hand them their first defeat of the season which was followed by a defeat to CSK. They faced another setback when fast bowler Billy Stanlake was ruled out of the IPL with an injury.
The team did not get affected by the back-to-back defeats and the injury to their frontline bowler, Stanlake. The game against Mumbai Indians saw them defend a modest total of 118 with all six bowlers taking wickets. They followed that victory with another against Kings Xi Punjab with ₹ 11cr worth Manish Pandey striking a cracking half-century in a low scoring affair.
Kane Williamson scored another match winning 63 to beat Rajasthan Royals and he was duly backed by his bowlers led by Rashid Khan, who took 3 wickets to successfully defend 161.
Against a resurgent Delhi Daredevils led by Shreyas Iyer, SRH had to chase 164 for victory. Hales was brought in to the squad to provide the runs at the top of the tree. He returned with a 31-ball-45 laying the foundation for Yusuf Pathan to finish the game with the skipper at the other end. In their 10th game of this IPL, SRH played an out of sorts RCB and Kane notched up another 50 to inspire his side to their 8th victory.
The Sunrisers are likely to finish in the top two and will have a good chance of making the finals. They have a settled team with all-rounders, Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan, putting in commendable performances when required.
The only concern for the team management would be the form of Indian batsman Manish Pandey, who was bought for a hefty price at the auction. The pressure can be seen in his performances which has resulted in him scoring only 184 runs in 10 outings with a meagre average of 23.