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Languishing at the bottom of the IPL points table, Sunrisers Hyderabad chose to bat against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday. Given they had lost their previous two games batting first, skipper Kane Williamson could have tried the other path. In Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, Sunrisers have two of the best bowlers in this format. What they didn’t have was belief in their batting. Without Jonny Bairstow and then David Warner who has stayed on the sidelines after being dropped, Sunrisers had nothing to lose really. So Williamson couldn’t have been faulted for punting on his batters again. One good innings and it could have turned out different.

But it proved wishful thinking. The hesitancy that has crept into their batting match after match is so deep seated that Sunrisers Hyderabad need a complete overhaul. Some may never be in their orange jerseys again. Wriddhiman Saha, always the team man, didn’t want to take a review in the first over despite Tim Southee’s in-dipper going over the stumps. His doubt is understandable but it also tells a lot about a batsman’s confidence if he can’t judge whether the ball could have gone over. Jason Roy’s struggle will be a worry for England going into the T20 World Cup. His was an excruciatingly laboured innings—10 runs off 13 balls comprising several leading edges, an inside edge for four and only one confident boundary walking down the pitch to Southee. The manner of his dismissal though casts a shadow on his temperament. Charging down the pitch, Roy tried to swat Shivam Mavi but only got the toe edge, the ball flying to Southee on the edge of the circle at mid-on.

HIGHLIGHTS: KKR BEAT SRH BY 6 WICKETS

It wasn’t an implosion though. KKR were terrific, exploiting an equally deceptive green but slow Dubai pitch, sucking the life out of Sunrisers’ innings in the middle overs with spin and Mavi and Southee giving no respite with their pace. Fielding Shakib Al Hasan for the first time allowed KKR to really push the envelope with spin. Between Shakib, Sunil Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy, they bowled 12 overs of spin at an economy of 4.33. So when Mavi and Southee came on, batsmen fell to catches looking for their release shots. Barring the run out of Williamson, all other SRH wickets fell to catches and stumpings. And KKR were operating without Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson. Now that Southee has cemented his position with 2/26 and Mavi too has impressed with 2/29, KKR have an abundance of bowling riches.

Had it not been for Abdul Samad’s charge, carving three sixes in an 18-ball 25, KKR would have probably been chasing a double-digit target. Sunrisers, despite Williamson’s dogged innings, never looked like they would produce a decent score. Having scored at less than six after 10 overs for the second time this season, SRH finished on 115/8, their second lowest score in IPL after batting first.

Only eight boundaries were struck the whole innings, and 56 dots conceded. KKR were the more edgy side going into this game. But they could afford to hold back after the bowlers had done their part. Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi had a rare off day but Shubman Gill (57-51, 10×4) finally came good with a well-compiled innings. The pitch made things difficult but a 55-run partnership between Gill and Nitish Rana (25) saw to it that KKR didn’t suffer any more hiccups. A late twist came in the form of Gill’s wicket when he flicked Siddarth Kaul to Jason Holder at long-on, followed by Rana top-edging Holder. But KKR was on top of the chase by then.

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