Travis Head leads SRH’s assault again to sink Delhi Capitals | Crickit
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Travis Head leads SRH’s assault again to sink Delhi Capitals

Apr 20, 2024 11:49 PM IST

The Aussie opener lashed a 32-ball 89 to lead a stunning powerplay assault that set up a 67-run win for Sunrisers

Before Saturday, only twice had more than 84 runs been scored by a team in the powerplay in this IPL. Travis Head alone made that many in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s innings by the time the first six overs were done on Saturday. So breathtaking was the assault by the in-form opening combination of Head (89, 32 balls, 11x4, 6x6) and Abhishek Sharma (46, 12 balls, 2x4, 6x6) that 125 runs came in the powerplay against a shell-shocked Delhi Capitals bowling attack at the Arun Jaitley Stadium – the highest ever in the first six overs of any T20. Pace or spin, short or full, nothing was spared as the Sunrisers openers smashed 24 of the first 36 balls for a four or six.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Travis Head celebrates his half-century during the match against Delhi Capitals (ANI )
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Travis Head celebrates his half-century during the match against Delhi Capitals (ANI )

Sunrisers had nudged so far ahead in this phase that even Kuldeep Yadav’s four wickets couldn’t stop the visitors from reaching 266/7 – the fourth-highest total this season. Delhi were bowled out for 199 in 19.1 overs in reply as Sunrisers clinched a 67-run win. This was the third instance of Delhi conceding 230-plus in eight matches.

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The blitzkrieg began in Khaleel Ahmed’s opening over that went for 19 runs – it was the most economical over of the powerplay, a reflection of the carnage that followed. Sunrisers already had the distinction of racking up the two highest totals in IPL history this season – 287/3 against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) after their 277/3 against Mumbai Indians (MI) – and they seemed well on their way to breaking the record again.

Head and Abhishek had been setting the tempo up top in their previous matches as well, and a flat track at the Ferozeshah Kotla played into their hands during a 131-run opening stand.

While Head raced to 84 off 26 balls at the end of the powerplay, Abhishek, a 23-year-old southpaw from Punjab who has made giant strides this season, was just as belligerent. Even Kuldeep, ever so crafty, was at the receiving end of Abhishek’s enterprise, conceding four sixes in six deliveries against him.

Delhi called for a strategic timeout as soon as it was available. Though much of the damage was done already, Kuldeep responded after the break by dismissing Abhishek and Aiden Markram in the space of four balls. Having been unsuccessful earlier while bowling at the stumps against Abhishek, the left-arm wrist spinner tossed the ball a bit wider and managed to get the youngster caught by Axar Patel at cover.

Although the boundary-hitting onslaught continued, Delhi also managed to make breakthroughs. Kuldeep got Head caught at long-on. In the very next over, Axar accounted for Heinrich Klaasen when he beat his slog across the line and hit the stumps.

But at 158/4 after 10 overs, Sunrisers were very much in the ascendancy. What they needed now was for two batters to stitch together a handy partnership to build on the exploits of their openers.

Nitish Reddy and Shahbaz Ahmed were the ones to do that, putting together a 67-run stand in 47 balls for the fifth wicket and taking Sunrisers beyond the 220-run mark, the bare minimum given the foundation that was laid.

If there was an impression that this is a top-heavy Sunrisers batting line-up, Shahbaz did his bit to dispel that by staying unbeaten on 59 off 29 balls.

Delhi had only one way of approaching the chase. Prithvi Shaw began by hitting Washington Sundar’s off-spin for four consecutive fours before being caught at cover in the endeavour to make it five on the trot. If Delhi managed to reach 88/2 in the powerplay, it was thanks to Australian Jake Fraser-McGurk’s 18-ball 65, comprising five fours and seven sixes. Relatively unknown beyond Australia before this IPL, the 22-year-old – drafted in as a replacement for injured pacer Lungi Ngidi – took just 15 balls for his fifty. He notably took down Washington for 30 runs in the third over.

But a steep asking rate requires the chasing team to keep going. It in turn brings the risk of wickets as Delhi lost Fraser-McGurk, Abhishek Porel and Tristan Stubbs to go from 109/2 to 154/5. With Rishabh Pant struggling to find his rhythm – he was on 16 off 20 balls before eventually reaching 44 off 35 balls – Delhi’s chase petered out in the end as left-armer T Natarajan finished with four scalps.

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