The clinical demolition of Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday night was the third straight win for Sunrisers Hyderabad. This equals the total number of wins they had last season.
Unless they hit a major roadblock, the Kane Williamson-led team should improve considerably on the 2021 performance.
What’s perhaps more relevant this season is how SRH have turned things around after two early defeats. Until last week, they were the most disregarded team in the tournament, looking weak in batting, bowling, team balance and depth and motivation.
In the last three matches, suddenly, everything appears to have fallen in place and SRH now look formidable.
Against KKR, among the leading teams in the tournament so far, SRH barely put a foot wrong, unaffected by the absence of star all-rounder Washington Sundar. On a juicy pitch affording pace, bounce and lateral seam movement to fast bowlers, they had their more fancied opponents reeling in the Powerplay itself.
The highlight in the first innings was Umran Malik bowling at a torrid pace to rattle the batsman, and his dismissal of Shreyas Iyer with a stunning yorker made for an electrifying moment.
Left-arm pacers Marco Jansen and T Natarajan brought a different skill sets to test the batsmen. KKR would have finished with 10-15 runs fewer than the 175 they got but for an expensive last over by Jagadeesha Suchith who suffered at the hands of Andre Russell.
At the break, it appeared that the Knight Riders had the upper hand as the likes of Umesh Yadav and Pat Cummins were expected to exploit the lively pitch better than SRH’s relatively inexperienced pace bowlers.
This hypothesis was blown to bits by Rahul Tripathi who upstaged everyone else in the match with a blazing 71 off just 36 deliveries, quashing KKR’s hopes of a win after they had claimed Abhishek Sharma and Williamson cheaply.
Not just Yadav and Cummins, even mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy was taken apart by the brilliant Tripathi.
The 31-year-old Tripathi, who plays first-class cricket for Maharashtra, is the most productive among uncapped players on the IPL circuit.
Year after year, he wins matches with his brave, no holds barred batting but has escaped the attention of India’s selectors. If he continues in this vein, the selectors will be compelled to consider him for India colours.
How far can this surge take SRH? This is now the biggest question. The match against Punjab Kings could provide some pointers. Punjab have experienced some dramatic crests and troughs already. They come into this match on the back of a morale-boosting win over former champions Mumbai Indians.
With Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Shahrukh Khan and the big-hitting West Indian Odean Smith, Punjab have arguably the strongest batting line-up in the league.
The bowling’s not as intimidating, but Kagiso Rabada is a proven match-winner.
And Rahul Chahar may have suffered at the hands of Mumbai Indians’ gifted South African youngster Dewald Brevis in the previous match, but he is still perhaps the best leg-spinner in the tournament — someone who can take wickets at low cost.
It promises to be an absorbing contest on Sunday. Victory for either side would put them among the frontrunners for a playoff berth.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
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The project also features, at a height of 263 metres, the highest solar energy tower on the planet