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Williamson's level head needed by SRH amid hard-hitters

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New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) In a T20 tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL), where teams look to pack their batting line-ups with big-hitting batsmen, the presence of a technically solid player in the middle order becomes paramount to arrest batting collapses.

SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) found that out on Wednesday night, when they saw their batting line-up crumble while chasing a target of 150 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and eventually lost the match despite being in a position of strength for much of it. Kane Williamson, SRH’s fourth highest run scorer last season and widely considered one of the best batsmen in the world across formats, was warming the bench for Wednesday’s game.

SRH needed just 35 runs in 24 balls when left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed, dismissed Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey and Abdus Samad in the same over. SRH went from 115/2 to 116/5 in that over and never recovered. They didn’t fall to unplayable deliveries but fell to cross-batted shots and SRH captain David Warner pointed that out clearly after the match.

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“We needed to play proper cricket shots… I was quite disappointed with how we went — cross-batted shots against left-arm orthodox (Shahbaz Ahmed). It hurts,” Warner had said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

This was the second match SRH lost after being in a position of strength. Even against Kolkata Knight Riders in their first match, they were 102/2 and needed 86 off 43 balls.

However, with not much depth in batting, Pandey was forced to play the role of an anchor and not go after the bowling as SRH fell short by 10 runs.

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SRH’s strategy has changed in this edition. While in the past Jonny Bairstow has successfully opened with Warner setting up century partnerships, Wriddhiman Saha, who did well towards the end last season at the top of the order, is being persisted with as opener with Warner. Bairstow has been pushed down the order. This has left the middle order with too many players who are good at hitting the ball but lacks players who pace their innings well, something that is Williamson’s greatest strength.

The New Zealand skipper played 12 matches last season, scoring 317 runs at an average of 45.28 and maintained a very good strike rate of 133.75. He has not played in both of the matches that SRH have played thus far and there already are calls to bring him back and provide stability to the batting line-up.

“This view is not after tonight’s result but I have always maintained this SRH team needs Kane Williamson in their playing XI no matter what,” tweeted former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, calling the Hyderabad franchise to include him in the playing XI.

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Former India opener and captain Virender Sehwag tweeted in his own way. “Kiska hai yeh tumko intezaar, Main hoon Na #SRHvsRCB,” he posted a line from a Bollywood movie song on his handle with Williamson’s picture. Translated, the tweet read “who are you waiting for, when I am here.”

–IANS

kh/rkm

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