IPL 2024 Final: Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Pat Cummins relies on intuition ahead of summit clash against Kolkata Knight Riders

Since beating India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final last year, Cummins’ Australia has been on a global conquest, retaining The Ashes in England and then topping it all by clinching the ODI World Cup in November. An IPL crown would be a nice addition to the list.

Published : May 25, 2024 23:11 IST - 4 MINS READ

Pat Cummins has been on a trophy-winning spree as captain since June last year, and as another prospective title – the Indian Premier League (IPL) - looms, the Australian skipper admitted with a smirk that the glorious run will run its course eventually.

“The run has got to stop at some point. It has been a great couple of years. I haven’t captained in any T20 cricket before this series, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Obviously, the T20 game is quite fast paced. But drawing on ODI captaincy last year, it didn’t feel too foreign,” the Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper said on the eve of the summit clash against Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai.  

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Since beating India in the World Test Championship (WTC) final last year, Cummins’ Australia has been on a global conquest, retaining The Ashes in England and then topping it all by clinching the ODI World Cup in November.

In an age where the all-pervasive data purportedly has all the answers, Cummins is a refreshing outlier who relies more on his ‘gut-feeling’.

“Data and analytics are there as tools to use. It’s just one factor in the decision-making process... There is still a strong case for gut-feeling and intuition. The way Abhishek [Sharma] and Travis [Head] have batted this season... data probably doesn’t tell you that it is going to be successful, but I know, as a bowler, it is pretty scary coming up against them. We have got lots of experience around our squad. Daniel Vettori is awesome strategically as well as a coach. The balance between information you gather from objective data and what you are feeling out there is key,” he explained. 

Openers Abhishek and Head have been at the forefront of SRH’s resurgence, with the duo’s attacking approach in the PowerPlay setting the tone for the team’s ballistic season that has seen records tumble. 

ALSO READ | Sunrisers Hyderabad’s spinners turn a corner with Pat Cummins’ faith

Cummins, who was bought for Rs. 20.50 crore in the auction last year, has taken Sunrisers from the bottom of the table in 2023 to the final this year, and the skipper attributed the team’s transformation to head coach Vettori and a ‘super-aggressive’ approach.

“Daniel Vettori as head coach is a big one [change]. A few other guys have come in this season. At the start of the season, you map out the style that you want to play that gives you the best chance to win. Along the way, you are allowed to adapt and maybe change the personnel. We were pretty strong about playing super-aggressive. In a 14-game season, you are not going to win every single game, but we think if you play that way, you are going to win most,” he said. 

The captain also credited domestic talent like Abhishek and Nitish Kumar Reddy for stepping up, something the franchise was lacking last season, and said that backing Indian youngsters was key for succeeding in the IPL. 

“Some of the youngsters have come through and won us games by themselves. Nitish and Abhishek are the two biggest examples. Guys who are away from the Indian setup have been fantastic. That has been the story of our team. A lot of guys are taking the game on, putting themselves out there and having breakout seasons.” 

ALSO READ | KKR captain Shreyas Iyer says fitness concerns weren’t addressed after ODI World Cup

Though Sunrisers had to adapt to tricky conditions here in their win against Rajasthan Royals and recalibrate their belligerence with the bat, Cummins said the batting department would stick to its guns in the final. 

“Here, there have been some 200-plus games and some other games where 160-170 has been enough. Our strength has been aggressive, so you’ll see much the same from our batting group. We are lucky with the flexibility that our all-rounders provide. If the pitch goes in the spin direction, we have got plenty of overs of spin. If it suits the quicks, we have got that base covered also.”

All-rounders Abhishek and Shahbaz Ahmad scalped five wickets between them to stop Rajasthan in its tracks and help SRH, whose strong suit hasn’t been spin bowling this season, defend 175 runs. 

It helped that the customary Chennai dew didn’t materialise on Friday, and with rain and cloud cover offering some respite from the blistering heat on match eve, Cummins hoped that it won’t exert too much influence on the outcome of the final either.

“The weather has been a little bit cool in the last few days. We thought that dew wouldn’t be as big a factor. But you never know... once it comes in, it’s a force to be reckoned with.” 

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