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Star Performers: Warner-Saha stand destroys Delhi

By HARISH KOTIAN
October 28, 2020 07:32 IST
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IMAGE: Sunrisers Hyderabad Openers Wriddhiman Saha and David Warner. Photograph: BCCI/IPL
 

Desperate for a victory to stay in the hunt for a place in the playoffs, Sunrisers Hyderabad made three changes to their team for the IPL match against Delhi Capitals, in Dubai, on Tuesday.

The one change that proved crucial in the final analysis was the inclusion of Wriddhiman Saha, who only made it to the playing eleven as the wicketk-eeper after Sunrisers benched Jonny Bairstow in favour of Kane Williamson.

Even though Saha is a Test match specialist for India, he has time and again shown he is capable with the bat in limited-overs cricket, especially in the IPL, where he has scored 1,795 runs in 96 innings at a strike rate of 130.

The Bengal glovesman even has a century to his credit in the IPL. Batting at No 4 he hit an unbeaten 115 from 55 balls in a losing cause for Kings XI Punjab in the 2014 IPL final against Kolkata Knight Riders.

This was only Saha's second appearance in this year's IPL and he was handed the difficult task of opening the batting with Captain David Warner.

He set the tone for Sunrisers, as he pulled Delhi's fast bowler Anrich Norte through square leg.

In the next over, he went after Kagiso Rabada, clipping the pacer over square leg for a four, while also getting a streaky boundary off an inside edge in that over.

Delhi introduced spin early as Ravichandran Ashwin came in to bowl the third over, but Warner foiled their plans as he slogged the off-spinner over the leg side for a six before Saha swept the last ball for a four.

Warner then hit Nortje for back-to-back fours in the fourth over before he took Rabada to the cleaners in his second over.

The Sunrisers captain hit Rabada for four fours and a six, to get 22 from his second over, as they raced to 77 for no loss in six overs.

Warner also raced to his fifty from just 24 balls in the over to make it a memorable birthday.

Saha continued to keep the boundaries coming, as he swept Axar Patel for a four behind square and then Ashwin back over his head for the same result.

Ashwin got Delhi the breakthrough when he dismissed Warner in the 10th over, caught on the off-side after a whirlwind 66 from 34 balls.

The unlikely opening combine of Warner and Saha had put Sunrisers in the driver's seat. The duo put on 107 runs for the first wicket from just 58 balls.

Saha continued his attacking approach as he slammed Tushar Deshpande for a couple of fours in the 11th over, to bring up his fifty from 27 balls.

He was particularly effective with the sweep shot against the spinners, hitting Axar for a six over square leg and then slapping him for a four through point a couple of balls later.

Rabada -- the holder of the purple cap, for taking the most number of wickets in the IPL so far -- was not spared as Saha pulled him for a six over midwicket before he perished for a brilliant 87 from 45 balls in the 15th over.

Delhi's bowlers pulled back things slightly in the last few overs as Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson got just one boundary in the last three overs, but SunRisers still finished with a huge 219 for 2 courtesy Warner and Saha's onslaught.

In reply, Delhi were bowled out for 131 and lost by 88 runs as Saha was deservedly named the man of the match.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com
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