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IPL 2023: The arrival of Harry Brook has turned the Sunrisers campaign upwards

IPL 2023: The arrival of Harry Brook has turned the Sunrisers Hyderabad campaign upwards. Harry Brook scored unbeaten century (100 off 55) against KKR.

IPL 2023, SRH vs RR, Top Performances_ Harry Brook makes his IPL debut for SRH _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Harry Brook scored his maiden IPL century (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

With the kind of skill and talent the new England batting star Harry Brook has displayed in his short international career so far, the question was never about ‘whether he can’ or ‘how can he’ when it comes to his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in his maiden and the sixteenth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023; but the query was always about ‘when will he’.

Brook was totally off colour when he came to bat with low scores of 21-ball 13, 4-ball 3 and 14-ball 13 not putting the ideal picture of his expertise. Sunrisers lost the first couple of games too and suddenly decided to promote Brook to the opening position where he could play his natural aggressive brand of cricket without having the scoreboard pressure.

Brook’s early failure was making SRH struggle as a unit

There was hardly any doubt on the firepower of Harry Brook who has cracked the Test format like a duck to water with 809 runs in six games at an average of 80.90 and strike rate of 98.77, including three fifties and four centuries with a highest score of 186. Even in T20Is, he has 372 runs at a strike rate of 137.77 but there was a different sort of pressure on him coming into the IPL especially with the high price tag of INR 13.25 crore.

In the first few games, only Rahul Tripathi was holding the batting unit with their regular captain Aiden Markram and Marco Jansen missed the initial games due to national commitments. Sunrisers also don’t have a batting unit decorated with those star India players as neither of Mayank Agarwal or Abhishek Sharma has played for the national side in the shortest format of the game.

Washington Sundar too wasn’t getting runs as Hyderabad could post only 131 and 121 in their first two games which was never enough on these tracks. Their inconsistency and poor show in batting created huge issues in their game plan. At that time, the only thing they needed was an inspiring performance from their batting unit.

IPL 2023, KKR vs SRH, Top Performances_ Harry Brook smashes maiden IPL century _Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Harry Brook smashes 55-ball-100 against KKR (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

Brook made dynamic and energetic arrival with electrifying century

Before his fourth game of the season, plenty of things were flowing against Harry Brook who by then had just 29 runs in three innings at a strike rate of 74 and he was up against the confident looking Kolkata Knight Riders in the middle of hot and humid conditions of Eden Gardens with the home crowd rooting to see him fall for the fourth consecutive time.

The SRH management offered Brook a stiff job of opening - a position where he has played only three times out of his 93 T20 innings. His impressive average of 34.14 and strike rate of 147.77 was almost built upon his attacking game plan in the middle order for his various sides. But opening the innings meant Brook had an extra cushion of having only two fielders outside the 30-yard circle.

Harry began in the most sublime way, smashing both the fast bowlers - Lockie Ferguson and Umesh Yadav - for four boundaries and couple of huge sixes in the first three overs of the game. The power was enormous that he didn’t need to think much about the bigger or smaller part of the ground. Brook also showed the real proficiency in the evening by moving away from the stumps and still drilling the ball through point for boundaries besides sitting low and scooping them over short fine leg for the same result.

Brook reached his maiden IPL century with a single to long-on to register as the fifth England player and the third Sunrisers player after David Warner and Jonny Bairstow to score IPL centuries.

“I was putting pressure on myself a little but for the first few games; people were calling me rubbish and you start to doubt yourself a little bit,” Brook spoke about the mental pressure after their second victory of the season. “I have had quite a lot of success batting at No.5 and made my name batting there, but I am really happy to do this.”

Brook who was struggling against spin scoring at a strike rate of just 80 and an average of just 6 was greatly supported in the middle overs by Aiden Markram who took the KKR spinners down with some clean hitting, ensuring the early momentum would never get away from their reach. Markram managed a 26-ball 50 with five sixes and couple of fours.

Abhishek Sharma too kept the attack on against the spinners. In the 16 balls he faced against the spinners, the left-handed batter smashed 32 with three boundaries and couple of sixes which helped SRH to go past the 225-run mark at the end. That evening was the perfect example of how a team should play their 20-overs.

Sunrisers will have clarity of roles for all players in all departments

That Brook innings has given Sunrisers and the players the perfect stage to understand their roles. From Rahul Tripathi to Aiden Markram to Abhishek Sharma, all have smacked the bowlers in small phases of the game while Harry Brook stood tall for the whole course of the innings to celebrate that entertaining century.

Before that they were falling like a pack of cards which resulted in two consecutive defeats. The bowling unit too wasn’t able to defend the score. Against Kolkata, Sunrisers used their bowling resources perfectly too. In a game where all the pacers flew all around the park, Bhuvneshwar Kumar had figures of 1/29 in his four overs including a maiden. Marco Jansen using his height and skill of swinging the ball made it tough for the opposition. Hyderabad have the bowling to restrict any side between 150-160 on any given day but they need runs in the bank.

The good rhythm of the batters will provide them those scores of 180+ regularly for which their top-order batters - Harry Brook, Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram - are required to continue the good form while Heinrich Klassen and Abhishek Sharma will be needed to provide them the valuable finishing. For them, the strength is having all the players getting into the groove.

Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are now placed at the ninth position with two wins in four games at a net run rate (NRR) of -0.822, will take on Mumbai Indians on April 18 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.

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