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Couldn’t have asked for a better game from bowlers – Warner

For the second time in as many matches, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowlers put up a solid performance, this time reining in Kings XI Punjab in a five-wicket win in Hyderabad on Saturday. Pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman led the charge against Kings XI with returns of 2 for 9 as the side picked up their third consecutive win to offset early losses and rise to third on the points table.

David Warner, the captain, acknowledged that the bowlers’ performances made it easier for him to rotate them and build a strategy.

“I have said in the past that if the bowlers bowl well, it makes my job a lot easier to obviously pick and choose where bowlers bowl. I think the patterns we have shown is, Fizz (Mustafizur) bowls the last over of the Powerplay to try and get no momentum for the other team to go into that middle period,” Warner said. “We’ve bowled well, we’ve allowed the ball to swing. The conditions have been good to swing the ball, and that’s probably our key upfront early.”

The strong performances have come despite the absence of senior bowler Ashish Nehra, who is out with a groin injury. Nehra’s absence paved the way for left-arm medium pacer Barinder Sran’s debut for the franchise, and Warner heaped praise on Sran for stepping up at an important time. “Losing Ashish Nehra was a big thing for us, but credit to Sran for coming in and playing the way he did. He’s obviously been a good bowler for India in his short career so far,” Warner said.

Against Kings XI, Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone with the early wicket of M Vijay, getting the opener to poke at one outside off and edge to the wicketkeeper. Mustafizur gave away only nine runs in his last three overs, while Moises Henriques got the big wickets of Kings XI captain David Miller and Glenn Maxwell to cap off a collective effort.

“Allowing Bhuvi to swing the ball early and take early wickets, Fizz comes in and does his job, Moises bowls in the middle period and knows exactly what he has to do – off-cutters, if he needs to try and swing the ball, he can swing the ball, hit the wicket,” Warner said. “And we saw here earlier today that you don’t want to be too predictable with your change of pace because the ball’s sitting up, it’s a nice wicket. But our bowlers adapted very well, I couldn’t have asked for a better game from our bowlers.

“The only negative was, a couple of times, the last ball went for four, and we always talk about closing out our overs. That’s been critical a little bit, but they’ve done a fantastic job.”

Like the game against Lions, the bowlers’ efforts were backed up by Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, who strung together a solid opening partnership, this time adding 90. After three successive single-digit scores to kick off his tournament, Dhawan has bounced back with 53* and 45 in the last two matches and Warner was pleased with the boost it had given the side.

“Shikhar wasn’t hitting the ball as well as he would have liked. In the last two games, he’s finding the form that we know he can be in,” he said. “He’s hitting the ball well, and when we’re working together at the top of the order, it’s always great when you can get a good partnership going as it helps a lot.

“We look at guys like [Gautam] Gambhir and Robin [Uthappa], they’ve been fantastic, and obviously Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers’ batting partnerships have been fantastic. We know in this tournament it takes one good partnership to take the game away from the opposition. And at the moment, we’ve got that partnership going. So that’s the key – when we’re bowling, to break that partnership; when we’re batting, to keep that partnership going.”

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