SRH vs RR, Qualifier 2: Pat Cummins, Sanju Samson and the quest to get into IPL 2024 final | Crickit
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SRH vs RR, Qualifier 2: Pat Cummins, Sanju Samson and the quest to get into IPL 2024 final

By, Chennai
May 24, 2024 08:47 AM IST

SRH vs RR, IPL 2024 Qualifier 2: SRH vs RR Qualifier 2 will be a face-off between two captains with many contrasts.

Pat Cummins has been reminded about India’s ODI World Cup heartbreak so often that he would probably know the wounds haven’t healed. Every time social media plays up his ‘silencing the home crowd’ comment during his IPL stay, the Australian captain might wonder if he has turned into a bit of a villain here.

Cummins will again be up against Samson(AP)
Cummins will again be up against Samson(AP)

But if Sunrisers Hyderabad do manage to lift the IPL trophy, then there will be at least one pocket in India where he would turn hero. As an IPL captain, he has done everything in his power, on the field as well as off it.

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Indian cricket should thank Cummins for getting the talented Abhishek Sharma to realise his true potential and giving pace all-rounder Nitish Reddy a space to shine. In helping SRH achieve its unfulfilled potential and moulding some of the brightest T20 cricketers into a fearsome team, a lot of credit should go to Cummins’ leadership.

SRH’s batting belligerence powered by Abhishek, Travis Head and Heinrich Klaasen has been one of the stories of IPL 2024. The Hyderabad franchise has gone past 200 on six occasions, twice over 250. Once, they chased down 165 inside 10 overs. There is however a flip side to such an aggressive approach. When things don’t go to plan, they can go horribly wrong. Against KKR in Qualifier 1 at Ahmedabad, they finished comfortably below par with 159 runs. It was a similar story against Chennai Super Kings in Chennai when they folded up for 134.

CHENNAI AND THE SPIN FACTOR

It’s that capitulation which would have dominated SRH’s pre-match discussions while preparing for Rajasthan Royals, who they face at the M Chidambaram stadium on Friday for a place in the finals against Kolkata Knight Riders. RR don’t have happy memories to carry from their Chennai outing either. Both teams were undone not just by CSK’s Ravindra Jadeja but to an equal degree by off-pace medium fast bowling. At the back end of the tournament, however, spin is expected to play a greater role. This is where RR holds an edge.

Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin have taken 27 wickets between them this season. They will also have the services of the experienced Keshav Maharaj to summon. On the other side, SRH has used spin sparingly and their spinners have been the most unproductive with just 12 wickets between three of them. Shabaz Ahmed has mostly done a holding job, while leg-spinner Mayank Markande has played in only half the games. It may not be a bad time to introduce local boy Washington Sundar and his off-breaks.

Never having led in T20 cricket before, Cummins’ composure has been one of the hallmarks of his captainship. He played down the reversal against KKR. "I guess we have earned the right to have one of those days and still win tournaments," he said. “Think you have those days in T20 cricket. Even when you are a very good side, you have some days where it doesn't quite work out.”

RR could not deliver a complete performance against Royal Challengers Bengaluru on Wednesday either. They might be thinking similarly after peaking too early in the league phase and almost forgetting to win before getting over the line against RCB at Ahmedabad. RR won 8 of their first 9 matches and became everyone’s favourites, before losing the winning habit; so much so that they were displaced from the top two before the playoffs. The losing streak had begun with a 1-run loss against SRH – these are things teams hold on to fuel a desire.

Another local presence for the Chennai crowd will be the left-armer from Salem, T Natarajan, who would hope to add another chapter to his fairytale story. With his 18 wickets, Natarajan has been SRH’s highest wicket-taker, closely followed by Cummins. But it is 'Nattu' who has bowled the difficult overs, even though they were not enough to impress the national selectors.

There will be three India World Cup squad members wearing pink on the park. Yashasvi Jaiswal at the top, who has been off the boil other than his blazing hundred against Mumbai Indians. Chahal is an IPL legend. For him, carrying the right mindset for his first World Cup, would also play on his mind.

The third being the protagonist of the IPL stage, Sanju Samson. Ten years a RR player, four years as captain, he is two steps away from an IPL title with all the love from Rajasthan, Kerala and his legion of fans from around the country. Cummins will again be up against it. The reason it could still be a spectacle is because the Australian wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he loves nothing more than to silence the crowd.

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