IPL 2021: Punjab look for answers against basement dwellers Hyderabad
It is likely that the talismanic Chris Gayle, dropped from the first match, will return to the playing XI
Having squandered a splendid opportunity to get two points against Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings will look to open their account in this second phase to remain in contention for a place in the playoffs.
On the face of it, beating stragglers Sunrisers Hyderabad does not seem difficult. But after losing the earlier match, PBKS have massive issues to overcome.
Not for the first time in the past few seasons, PBKS looked a gift horse in the mouth against RR, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory which saw them slump to the seventh spot in the points table. Unlike Sunrisers Hyderabad who they play tonight, there is still a decent chance to make the last 4. But another defeat could quash any such ambition.
What can PBKS do to win? Frankly, they did everything right with bat and ball in the first match for most of the time. But their final three overs in the chase was a disaster. Chief coach Anil Kumble grimly conceded there was a pattern to these failures which needed to be addressed.
How they are going to address the issue remains to be seen. It is likely that the talismanic Chris Gayle, dropped from the first match, will return to the playing XI. But that in itself may not be enough. Losing a match from a winning position multiple times can’t be incidental. It points to a defeatist mindset, which can become a malaise if not arrested.
Meanwhile, SRH’s cup of woes has started spilling over. Attacking openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy pulling out of the second phase brought in young West Indian Sherfane Rutherford, who too is returning home after his father, unfortunately, passed away. But that is only half the issue with the openers.
The other is of David Warner’s continued failures. The dashing Aussie opener with several years of yeoman service to the franchise went through such a lean patch in the first phase that he not only lost his captaincy but his place in the team as well. Warner was back in the first match of the first phase but was out for a blob in the first over.
For captain Kane Williamson, who had an undistinguished first match apart from a great catch, the form of veteran Manish Pandey is also a big concern. It has made the batting fragile and vulnerable since there aren’t too many other batsmen of the same class and experience.
Without adequate runs to defend, Rashid Khan’s effectiveness as a wicket-taker also gets mitigated. Currently, SRH find themselves trapped in a vortex of helplessness with no clear idea of how to breakthrough.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
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