Talking Points from the IPL 2020 match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians in Sharjah.

Umpire’s call to Pollard’s, and Mumbai Indians’, rescue

A Rashid Khan over is never short of incident. Take his last over today, against the Mumbai Indians.

Second delivery, Ishan Kishan top-edged a googly. Khan called for it as he charged in to collect the catch. But he spilled it, and was evidently cross with himself.

Khan, though, did not get distracted, and responded by outsmarting Kieron Pollard in the air with a googly. Before the delivery, Khan had placed his captain, David Warner, at silly mid-on to deny Pollard an easy single. Despite reading the plan, Pollard was beaten in the air and by the turn as he took a big stride to meet the ball in line with his off stump, and was hit on the pad. The umpire, though, ruled him not out, based on the understanding that the impact was marginally outside off. Khan reviewed immediately, but it was umpire’s call, and Pollard stayed in.

Pollard had made just 6 at the time, and the Mumbai Indians were struggling at 98 for 5 with five overs left. According to ESPNcricinfo’s Luck Index, the impact of that decision in favour of Pollard helped them score 20 extra runs, as Pollard eventually made 41 off 25 balls.

Two wickets for ‘specialist’ Saha

Specialist wicketkeepers are a rare breed in T20 cricket. Wriddhiman Saha is an exception, his glovework making him stand out. Positioning, alertness, reading the ball off the bowlers’ hands, reflexes, and stable and safe hands define his wicketkeeping. Those basics came into play on Tuesday as Saha contributed to two key Mumbai wickets, which came in quick succession.

First, Shahbaz Nadeem pitched one on a length, a delivery on the fourth stump, which Suryakumar Yadav attempted to drill through the covers but missed. Only because Nadeem was bowling with a slightly round-arm action, which kept the ball low. Yadav had to go fetch it and that meant his back heel moved out of the crease for a moment. The ball was bowled at nearly 100kph, but Saha was alert and stable, and swiftly, and definitively, brushed off the bails.

In the next over Saurabh Tiwary was foxed by the googly from Khan, and got a thick outside edge. Saha was prepared once again. He was squatting outside off stump, and stayed low to pick up another edge, one that came fast and low.

How Saha has helped Warner be back at his aggressive best

In the first 11 matches this IPL, Warner’s strike rate was 127, well below the standards set by the Sunrisers captain in the previous editions. In the three matches, he has opened with Saha, though, Warner’s strike rate has spiked to almost 164 as he has scored 159 runs with two half-centuries.

Warner and Saha are the only openers this IPL to score half-centuries in the same game on two occasions – they did that in the win against the Delhi Capitals and today against the Mumbai Indians.

Saha’s free strokeplay against all kinds of bowling has allowed Warner to play his natural, aggressor’s role. Even though it is only in the two matches where the Warner-Saha combination has blossomed, but both these were must-win games for the Sunrisers. Both against the Capitals and today against a depleted Mumbai Indians attack, Warner and Saha started off strongly and pulled away from the opposition.

Warner once again displayed his ruthless attitude, which has made him possibly the best batsman in the tournament’s history. And Warner would admit Saha’s contribution to his success.

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