Sunrisers Hyderabad give glimpses of the future in a revolutionary IPL season

SRH have two 100+ scores and six 60+ scores in 14 powerplay innings in IPL 2024.
Sunrisers Hyderabad?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
SRH have shown what the future of T20 cricket will be.

“The aggressive approach is not going to work in every game. But in the one or two games where it hasn't gone our way at the start, we’ve still managed to get a good total. Still think this is the way forward for our boys.”

Pat Cummins gave this statement following Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 35-run defeat over Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), where all SRH batters did was swing bat at everything in a 207-run chase. One would expect it from the captain of a team that has hit the most sixes (160) in the league stage of IPL 2024. That’s a maximum after every 9.28 deliveries and 11.85 per match.

For context, the two teams with the least sixes this season - Rajasthan Royals (102) and Gujarat Titans (67) - have combined to hit only nine more than SRH. 37.74% of SRH’s runs have come in sixes, the highest among all ten teams, with the second-best side, Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), scoring 35.90% of runs in maximums.

The fun fact about SRH is that they have hit the second-lowest fours (198), only ahead of Gujarat Titans (183), in IPL 2024. That sums up the mindset of their batters, really; there are no two ways. It’s six or nothing.

Also Read: Nitish Kumar Reddy - a beacon of hope to Indian cricket

There is a fine line between fearlessness and recklessness. SRH batters, though, have been fearlessly reckless. They know the amount of risk on every attacking shot and still don’t shy from going full-fledged.

12 batters have hit 25 or more sixes in IPL 2024, and SRH and DC have three each. For SRH, Abhishek Sharma (41), Heinrich Klaasen (34), and Travis Head (31) hold three positions in the top six most prolific six-hitters in this edition.

It all started from the top where Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma have belted absolutely everything from the top. Among all batters facing at least 100 balls in powerplay this season, Head (215.64) and Abhishek (206.91) have the second and third-best strike rate, respectively. SRH have scored 11.48 runs per powerplay over this season, hitting a boundary every 3.23 deliveries.

SRH have two 100+ scores and six 60+ scores in 14 powerplay innings in IPL 2024. Two highest-ever powerplay scores in IPL have come this season, both by Sunrisers Hyderabad.

"I think that's where we feel like the game is changing. It doesn't feel like there's much more time to get yourself in. Obviously, you have the extra batter [with the Impact Player rule]. So, the batting lineup is a little bit longer. But generally, the guys who come in and want to take six or seven balls to get themselves in and get six of six - You know when you're chasing 230, 240, 250, it just feels like the game doesn't allow you to do that anymore. So it is tough.”

It was Faf’s honest realisation the last time RCB lost a game in the league stage this season, falling one run short against KKR. Since then, RCB have gone at 169.44 in the first six overs. We all know what it led to.

Take Delhi Capitals as another example. Jake Fraser-McGurk’s inclusion over David Warner felt like the only thing missing in DC’s abysmal run in the first five games where they lost four. Jake’s gung-ho approach not only provided impetus from the top but also enabled his opening partners and other batters to go with the flow.

The success was instant. DC won six of their next nine matches. While they didn’t qualify for the playoffs, DC at least caught up with the brand of cricket top-tier sides were playing from the start.

Consistency is often overrated in T20 cricket. SRH have shown that the only thing teams need to be consistent is hitting boundaries, even if they come at the expense of quick wickets.

Chasing 213 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), SRH batters played a lot of rash shots and kept falling one by one. Most SRH batters holed out to the fielders in the deep across the ground, with some of their shots questioning their batting smarts. Smart hitting is a vital aspect; not what SRH think, though.

“We’re pretty happy with how the batting lineup is going. Everyone in that lineup has performed and won us a game at some point in the tournament.”

These words by Pat Cummins after the loss reiterated the mindset that SRH batters bat in the middle. It was SRH’s second consecutive loss and could have been enough to cast doubts in minds. What followed, though, was two 200+ totals and a 166-run chase inside ten overs in the next four games.

The Impact Player rule has often been reasoned for all big scores this IPL season. But this heedless approach would have continued even if SRH didn’t have an additional batter. Their best scoring has come from regular batters, anyway.

Five SRH players have faced 100+ balls in IPL 2024, and four of them - Abhishek, Head, Klaasen, and Samad - have struck at more than 170. Nitish Kumar Reddy has a strike rate of 148.83. It’s all about the mindset SRH have been batting and has nothing to do with that extra cushion.

Regarding pitches, the way SRH batters have gone with their job has taken conditions out of the equation. It is a vital aspect of teams going on an all-out attack. If the track is on the slower side, teams with a casual approach can end up with par scores.

However, teams like SRH can very well post above-par totals on those tracks. Take their win against Chennai Super Kings (CSK), for example. That was not a typical Hyderabad track, and the slowness of the pitch increased with the game.

Batting first, CSK posted 165/5, which was not a below-par score at all. In reply, SRH openers belted 78 in the powerplay, compared to 48 by CSK, to end the chase then and there. Obviously, CSK made a slight comeback, but the early assault was enough for coming batters to get the job done in 18.1 overs despite hiccups.

Even on batting paradises, SRH’s intent has led to those subsidiary runs, eventually making a difference in the end. Mumbai Indians (MI) fell only 31 runs short in a 278-run chase, while Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) remained only 25 runs shy of SRH’s 287. Who knows what would have happened had some batters diverted from SRH’s adopted approach?

The cliche that ultra-aggressive sides can often bundle on a low score is also put to rest. SRH have shown that if all batters move in one direction, those chances are minimal. Apart from their defeat against CSK, it’s hard to find any other game when SRH were significantly outdone or their modus operandi backfired.

It has been a well-strategised plan from the SRH management. Abhishek Sharma never struck at more than 145, barring his debut season, where he batted in only three innings. But that has surged to 207 this edition, depicting he always had those skillsets; it’s just that he also has the freedom to do so now.

SRH also dropped Aiden Markram, who couldn’t adapt to the method, midway through the season. Mind you, Markram guided SRH home with a prudent fifty against CSK. That was the statement - impact over consistency.

After every defeat, Pat Cummins has been questioned about the team’s approach. Like his batters, Cummins has been vocal with his statements, backing his batters incessantly. It speaks about clarity within the group.

SRH have shown what the future of T20 cricket will be. Purists might not like it. But teams can’t escape from adopting the same method sooner or later.

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