Takeaway from SRH vs MI six-hitting festival: 300-run mark in IPL is closer than ever before | Ipl News

Mumbai Indians batter Hardik Pandya (LEFT) and Sunrisers Hyderabad batter Abhishek Sharma in action in the SRH vs MI IPL 2024 run-fest at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Uppal, in Hyderabad. (PHOTOS: PTI)

SRH vs MI, IPL 2024: Sunrisers Hyderabad broke an IPL record on Wednesday; the highest score in the league that keeps lifting its yardstick. Travis Head and friends nearly breached a barrier too; the league’s first 300. They eventually fell 23 runs short of the golden frontier, but there were moments in the game they threatened to reach the elusive shore.

A margin of 23 runs looks distant in this format, but look deeper and closer, the total was not that far away. Four more sixes, or six more fours, which they were adequately capable of, could have scripted history. There were 21 dot balls. Better manipulation of fields, more risks paying off, a top-edge or two, or a more fluent Mayank Agarwal (11 from 13 balls), or no Agarwal at all, the league’s first 300 could have been born.

That they fell short showed how steep a task it is to score 300 in this format (of mere 120 balls, that is 15 runs an over), even if you account for the frantic six-hitting of these days. Exactly 30 years ago, India had not even crossed 300 in ODI cricket (a less onerous task of scoring run-a-ball).

Scoring 300 in T20s is a near-supernatural feat. Only once has it ever been achieved — at the inaugural game of the Asian Games between Nepal and Mongolia. Nepal pillaged 314 runs for the loss of three wickets with Kushal Malla remaining unbeaten on 137 off 50 balls. He hit at a strike rate of 274. Sunrisers’ Abhishek Sharma struck at 273.91. Had he not perished for a 23-ball 63 and batted deeper, perhaps, they would have reached closer. The real impetus for Nepal’s 300 was provided by Dipendree Singh Airee, who slammed 52 off 10 balls; 48 off those came through his eight sixes.

Rajasthan Royals’ Yashasvi Jaiswal rattled out IPL’s fastest half-century in only 13 balls. So it’s not inconceivable that someone would take fewer balls to reach a half-century.

Festive offer

True that it would take the alignment of several possible stars to conceptualise a 300 total in this format. There are several variables involved. The pitch needs to be placid, with the perfect amount of pace and bounce. More than one batsman needs to score at 250-plus strike rate; the team ought to score at 15 runs an over there or thereabouts; the opposition bowlers either should be utterly incompetent or endure a harrowing day (both of which were true to a certain degree); Jasprit Bumrah should not be among the bowlers — he was the real difference between Sunrisers not scoring 300, his fours overs costing only 36 runs; the dimensions of the ground should not be enormous — a three hundred is likely to be birthed at Chinnaswamy rather than MCG.

Orange Cap in IPL 2024: Find out who scores the most runs in this season's IPL Sunrisers Hyderabad batter Heinrich Klaasen celebrates his half century during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians, at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Uppal, in Hyderabad, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (PTI Photo)

The former is a likely venue this time because Royal Challengers Bengaluru has the flakiest attack on paper. A bit of fortune should shower on the batsmen — Travis Head was dropped on five; there were misfields aplenty as Sunrisers batsmen ratcheted up the pressure.

It’s then really about the most destructive of batsmen enjoying the most destructive of nights and the shoddiest of bowling units enduring the most shoddiest of nights. And hence improbable. But what was once considered improbable has been achieved in sport. It took 2,349 ODIs to see the format’s first 400. But then 400s became more frequent, so much that England came a whisper away from 500 (498/4 versus Netherlands in Amstelveen two years ago). Everest has been conquered several times after Tenzin Norgay and Edmund Hillary scaled it; several have landed on the moon after Neil Armstrong.

Thus, Sunrisers, with their derring-do approach, have not only opened the doors of imagination but also set a blueprint of sorts. It requires unbridled hitting, almost treating every over as a death over, almost looking to strike every ball beyond the boundary, with no start, middle, or end. Just relentless hitting. They smacked 18 sixes and 19 fours — one in every three balls was a four or six.

That Mumbai Indians nearly hunted the target down (fell short by merely 31 runs) is a clear indication of how the game is shaping up, and where it’s heading to. It would hit a new peak than the flatline. It’s a format hurtling through cycles of evolution; the totals would only get larger, the tally of fours and sixes would only shoot up.

This season, still in infancy, has already seen batsmen teeing off from Ball One. This is an ambitious generation unhindered by the past numbers but on a mission to set new benchmarks.

And not too far away is IPL’s first 300. For that, this game was a peep into the future.

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