It's not an understatement to say that Sunrisers Hyderabad's bowling revolves around Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan primarily. In the absence of Bhuvneshwar due to sore back, Rashid took the onus upon himself to ensure SRH didn't feel the pinch of missing out on their spearhead against Mumbai Indians on Thursday (April 12).
Rashid, in a Man of the Match performance, only had the one wicket against his name, but conceded just 13 runs in his four overs, bowling as many as 18 dot balls of his 24 bowled, leaving Mumbai's batsmen clueless as to how to tackle him whenever he was brought on to bowl by skipper Kane Williamson.
The wicket at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad wasn't one that was very different from the first game played. The ball was coming onto the bat well, but the bowlers had their share in it too. It came down to who could use it to their advantage. While the legspinners from both the sides - with Mayank Markande picking up a four-wicket haul - making the most of it, the batsmen faltered to a large extent on the night. Yet, Rashid chose to look at the brighter side.
"It was much-needed," said Rashid. "Always need to contribute well in the team's performance. It was a good performance to restrict them to under 150. It was a good bowling effort, all the boys bowled really well. Dot balls are crucial in such a short format. That was the plan to bowl as many dot balls as possible. That was the message from the management to go and enjoy yourself - that's what I did. I just try my best to bowl in good length areas and mix it up for the batsmen. As he's in his stance, I can see where he's trying to hit. Love to bowl both, the leg-spinner and the googly."
It was also in Bhuvneshwar's absence that a starkly aggressive side of Rashid was seen, particularly when Kieron Pollard was in the middle. Pollard drove one back to Rashid in the 11th over, before the bowler flung the ball towards Saha to then exchange a few words with Pollard. It could've gone either way for SRH, given that a riled up Pollard can be game-changing, and the burly West Indian responded with smacking Rashid for a boundary, off the next ball, straight back over his head.
"We are always having fun when (we) are there in the centre. Against Pollard I did (that) in the Big Bash (League) as well so... we (would) have some good conversation which makes the game more entertaining. People would watch it and get fun from that. That was the plan, to go against him very aggressively and try to (get) him to make some mistake and get his wicket because his wicket was very crucial that time. He is a kind of player who can take the game away from you at any stage."
But it didn't happen as Pollard was scalped by Billy Stanlake for 28 and Mumbai were kept to 147. SRH would've been happy to have restricted Mumbai to under 150 at the halfway stage and even started off well with Shikhar Dhawan and Wriddhiman Saha reducing the deficit between runs required and balls remaning with an opening stand of 62 that came in quick time. It was Saha's wicket in the seventh over, however, that caused panic down the hosts' ranks with youngster Markande picking up his first of four wickets for the night after Mumbai decided to refer a leg before call which was eventually overturned and given out.
From 62 for 0, SRH were soon reduced to 107 for 5. Soft dismissals and poor shot selection spelt their doom, but Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan took them from winning distance with less than a run a ball required. Sunrisers needed 15 off the last three overs, but it came down to the one run required off the last ball with one wicket in hand and Stanlake on strike. Eventually, a heave over midwicket sealed the win for them.
"That happens, T20 is all about this; sometimes you will go well and suddenly everything will change," said Rashid. "It was a good experience for us, (we) learned a lot of things... especially for the batsmen (in the sense) that until the last run (is scored) the match is not finished. Everyone should take the responsibility and play till the end. That was a good wake-up call for us for the upcoming matches. It was a good team effort, but it happens in T20, sometimes you lose many wickets in a short time. We will learn from it and hopefully not repeat it in the upcoming matches."