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MI vs SRH, IPL 2021 Talking Points: Hyderabad lose three win a row to register worst start ever

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 150/5 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 40, Kieron Pollard 35*; Vijay Shankar 2-19) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 137 in 19.4 overs (Jonny Bairstow 43, David Warner 36; Rahul Chahar 3-19) by 13 runs

Mumbai Indians displayed their brilliant skills at the death with the ball yet again as they convincingly defended 150 for 5 to win by 13 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Opting to bat first at the slow Chepauk track – the first captain to win the toss and bat first in IPL 2021 – the Mumbai batters were unable to play their strokes freely as Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan choked the run flow. Kieron Pollard, however, smashed handy sixes in his knock of 35 that proved to be the difference in the end. Though the middle order could not fire for the defending champions, they have adequate strength in their squad, and will take heart from their bowling strength. 

SRH got off to a great start, with Jonny Bairstow and David Warner giving a solid foundation. However, Bairstow was unfortunately out hit wicket, following which the side could never recover as they lost their third loss in a row. This is SRH’s worst start to any season since their entry in 2013, and they have a number of issues to sort before their next game at the same venue. They will need a way to slot Kane Williamson in the XI to check their iffy middle order while the poor run of form by skipper Warner needs to be overturned soon. 

Here are the talking points from the match: 

Why did SRH make four changes? 

The biggest talking point came at the toss after SRH skipper David Warner announced that his side had made as many as four changes to the XI against Mumbai Indians. The only winless team in the competition thus far, the moves wreaked of frustration and signalled that panic mode had already been hit in the side. T Natarajan, one of the finds of the IPL last year, was dropped with Khaleel Ahmed taking his place while Jason Holder, who had a successful outing with the bat in the last game, was replaced by Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Virat Singh and Abhishek Sharma came into the side in a bid to strengthen the SRH middle order, but their inexperience meant that they could not navigate through some brilliant death bowling. 

Virat, batting at number four with Bairstow back to his preferred opening slot at the top of the order, played a conservative knock in his maiden IPL outing and was eventually dismissed as he mistimed the ball to long off. Abhishek Sharma too did not bat with maturity as he looked to play a glory shot when 47 were still needed. Though Khaleel Ahmed was economical, making four changes just two games into the IPL displays a lack of faith in the players. The decision to bench Kane Williamson when the team has one of the weakest batting units is befuddling as well, and we expect the Kiwi skipper to be back in the XI in the next game. Mujeeb, who picked up 2 for 29 might be the unlucky to miss out. 

The return of Bairstow and Warner and it’s fireworks time 

SRH broke a highly successful partnership of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner last year ahead of the playoffs, with Wriddhiman Saha opening the innings instead. The move had paid off as Saha played a couple of blistering innings, but with the player unable to leave a mark thus far, SRH went back to their number 1 opening pair. Bairstow, who had smashed fifty against KKR at number four, started off aggressively and was particularly lethal in the power play overs as he opened up against Trent Boult, with three fours and a six in the third over. He smashed two more sixes in the next over that was bowled by Adam Milne and then followed it up with another maximum off the bowling of Krunal Pandya. Mumbai struggled for answers against the English cricketer in the first six overs, and just when it looked like he could take the game away, he was out hit wicket. 

Warner, at the other end, was run out soon after as Mumbai crawled back into the match. 

Keiron Pollard to the rescue once again 

Big hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard was the Man of the Match against SRH after a crucial knock of 35 that helped sway the game in his team’s favour. After Rohit Sharma had given the side a fine start that helped Mumbai Indians record 53 for 0 in the first six overs, a number of quick wickets meant that the defending champions were on the backfoot. Vijay Shankar was impressive with the ball as his variations made run scoring difficult. He first sent back Rohit Sharma and then got the crucial wicket of Suryakumar Yadav as Mumbai struggled to score runs in the middle overs. 

With Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowling stump to stump, the Mumbai batters had very little room to play their strokes. Ishan Kishan had a torrid time in the middle where he failed to get bat to ball and even get the singles. Pollard, who struggled initially and was 3 off 8 at one stage, broke the shackles with a six off Mujeeb Ur Rahman before a couple of handy fours in the last two overs. He smashed the final two overs of the innings for two huge sixes – one 105 metres long – to stay unbeaten on 35. In the end, it proved to be the difference as Mumbai won by 13 runs.

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