IPL: Abhishek, Klaasen shine in Sunrisers' third win of season

NEW DELHI: Abhishek Sharma, back at the top of the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad, was an anomaly for the first 12 overs of a match played between two equally unsure teams at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Saturday evening. His uncluttered intent fetched him 67 runs off 36 laid the foundation for Heinrich Klassen’s blazing unbeaten 27-ball 53 for SRH to post 197/6 and secure a nine-run win against a beleaguered Delhi Capitals.
That was enough to provide enough cushion for SRH against the brutal power-hitting of Phil Salt and Mitchell Marsh that threatened to take the game away with their 112-run second-wicket partnership off 60 balls after skipper fell off the second ball of the chase for naught off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
It took seven matches to awaken the beast of Marsh who plundered 63 off 39 balls while Salt justified his selection with a 59 off 35 balls. While Marsh flexed his Hulk-like muscles to deposit the ball deep into the stands six times, Salt played the field well to hit nine boundaries.
Once the two power-hitters departed in the 14th over, the Capitals batting were back to its scratchy batting as the SRH spinners Mayank Markande and Abhishek’s spells of 2/20 and 1/20 respectively dragged the length slightly back on a drying surface. That left too much to do for Capitals’ in-form batter Axar Patel coming in at No. 7 with 26 balls and 58 runs remaining as Capitals finished with 188/6 and Patel unbeaten on 29 off 14 runs.
As Abhishek took down Capitals’ new-ball bowlers Ishant Sharma, Anrich Nortje and Mukesh Kumar at one end, indecisive shot-making at the other end meant SRH were reduced to 109/5 in the 12th over. Marsh walked away with four wickets for 27 runs with slow long hops even as Axar brought in all his experience in a spell of poor batting by the SRH middle order.
The dismissals of Mayank Agarwal, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram and Harry Brook screamed of the mediocracy plaguing the SRH batting this season. To their relief, their most consistent batter Klassen decided to take the game back to the Capitals bowling attack. To start with, he nullified the utility of Mukesh Kumar that had stopped them from clinching a win in a low-scoring encounter in the last game in Hyderabad earlier this week.
As Mukesh bled 24 runs in his second over, he realized how cruel and unforgiven this format can be at this level. During his onslaught on the Capitals, Klassen went about literally chipping massive sixes off Axar and Nortje. With every nonchalant screamers off his bat, Klassen knocked the wind out of Capitals’ bowling which has been their saving grace during a rather woeful campaign.
All of that was set up by Abhishek himself up front in the innings after his captain Aiden Markram elected to bat first on winning the toss. Abhishek’s unadulterated attack in the powerplay, holding his poise while staying inside the line of the ball with the only intention of clearing the in-field, signaled that SRH were determined to test the subpar batting prowess of Capitals.

A pitch that looked bare and flat from a distance, the experienced Capitals pacers relied on taking the pace off the ball more. Even as wickets tumbled around him, Abhishek was never going to hold himself back as his innings dotted with 12 boundaries and one hit over the fence would suggest. There was no way he was letting Capitals back into the game having collected 62 runs in the Powerplay. Capitals were always playing catch-up from that point.

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