To think that Jason Holder was vacationing in the Caribbean when an unexpected call to join Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) came well after the IPL 2020 begun is not to assume that he was in anyway underprepared. The 6’ 7” Barbadian proved that once again against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Friday, taking his team once step closer to a final spot with an all-round effort.
“I left the missus. It was hard enough making the decision to come over and play. I am glad I did,” Holder had said after a successful first foray this season against Rajasthan Royals which saw him return with his best-ever IPL figures of 3/33.
He improved upon that with a 3/25 against RCB in the eliminator which helped restrict Virat Kohli’s team to 131/7 in 20 overs. His role was not done yet as he was involved in 65-run partnership with Kane Williamson (50*) for the fifth wicket as SRH got home in 19.4 overs after showing signs of another batting implosion. They will now face Delhi Capitals on Sunday for a place in the title decider.
SRH vs RCB, IPL 2020 Eliminator: Full highlights
Holder, who went unsold in the IPL 2020 auction and got picked only because Australian Mitchell Marsh twisted his ankle in SRH’s first game this season, deserves a huge shout for making an instant impact. The demands and perception of T20 cricket is such that even Holder, who is world No. 1 Test all-rounder, can be left out. It has been happening with the Windies Test captain for long, who last played in the IPL in 2016.
But the bounce that some of the UAE pitches have offered suited Holder’s game. Aided by his massive size, Holder has maximised returns from those strips. The result reflects in his tally of 13 wickets in six games. Since his inclusion, SRH took the most wickets (49) in the second half of the league stage.
Add to it, his ability to play crucial cameos with the bat and there seems no doubt why he is a preferred choice for the fourth foreigner’s slot over Jonny Bairstow.
On Friday, he broke RCB’s back by taking out captain Kohli and their top-scorer this season Devdutt Padikkal inside the first four overs.
It took Holder two balls to make an impact as his rising delivery moved inwards against Kohli. The RCB captain attempted to create space on the leg-side but the extra bounce helped the ball touch his gloves and Shreevats Goswami, playing in place of injured Wriddhiman Saha, dived to complete a brilliant catch.
Next up was Padikkal, whose half-hearted pull off Holder’s short delivery got the high part of the bat and Priyam Garg did the rest.
With RCB 15/2 in 3.3 overs, SRH bowlers took control. If there is one side whose bowling depth is enviable, it’s the one led by David Warner. AB de Villiers was at the crease but the likes of Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem and T Natarajan gave him little breathing space.
The plight of the RCB batsmen was such that even the great ABD took 20 balls for his first boundary. De Villiers did get his fifth half-century of the season but got little support from the other end.
When Holder was taking a break, Natarajan was doing what he does his best – bowling yorkers at will and getting results. He rattled de Villiers’s stumps with one such beauty after dismissing Washington Sundar in the 18th over. Rashid Khan too was economical conceding just 22 in his four overs. When he was not taking wickets with his leg-spin, the Afghan star made an impact with impeccable aim. It was his throw from extra cover that ran out Moeen Ali from a free-hit delivery.
Holder, however, was not done for the night yet as he got a leading edge off Shivam Dube which was caught by David Warner.
Chasing such a low total may look easy but on a track getting slower in Abu Dhabi, SRH batsmen were made to work hard. Mohammed Siraj dismissed Goswami and David Warner in the powerplay. As the asking rate crept due to the miserly spells of Adam Zampa (1/12 in four overs) and Yuzvendra Chahal (1/24) it took the cool heads of Williamson and Holder to steer SRH home.
“To be doing well under pressure is really heartening, especially when you have come in as a replacement. A long way to go for me personally, my game is on the mend. I’m still young, working on my skills in the last couple of years,” the 29-year-old Holder had to say about his show.