IPL: Aaron Finch's Innings a Pivotal Moment in Sunrisers' Defeat to Mumbai

Freddie WildeContributor IMay 12, 2014

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 22:  Harbhajan Singh of Mumbai bats during the Champions League twenty20 match between Sydney Sixers and Mumbai Indians at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on October 22, 2012 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

It is sometimes hard to look back on a T20 match and pinpoint the moments where it was won and lost. The importance of every delivery is enormous, yet it is often only a handful of conspicuous balls that stick out. 

Looking back at the Sunrisers' defeat to the Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad, it is easy to broadly summarise that the Sunrisers didn't quite score enough runs, and a couple of loose overs here and there cost them with the ball, allowing Mumbai a comfortable victory. 

Yet you've got to question why. Why did they not score enough runs? What did they do wrong? Sometimes, such moments are obvious. A batsman scores 10 off 25 balls—wasting balls, not scoring runs and bogging an entire innings down. Sometimes, the bowling side is simply too good—one great spell, some awesome fielding or just a generally solid team bowling performance (these are perhaps the hardest to notice).

But then at times, the reasons are not so discernible. On Monday, for example, the Sunrisers managed to score 157-3 in their 20 overs. 

First and foremost, losing just three wickets in a T20 innings is always something to take note of. Losing three wickets suggests unused resources. Indeed, Moises Henriques at six did not bat. 

Another thing to take note of is the strike rates. David Warner's 55 off 31 balls gave him a strike rate of 177—certainly high enough, certainly attacking enough. Naman Ojha's three-ball innings is too short to really consider. Of the other three batsmen who faced deliveries—the top three—none of them had a strike rate greater than 109.67. 

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - APRIL 01:  Aaron Finch of Australia bats during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 match between Bangladesh and Australia at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on April 1, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

That strike rate belonged to Aaron Finch, who faced more balls than any other Sunrisers player, and, indeed, scored more runs. 

It is at this point that criticism becomes slightly difficult. Finch anchored the Sunrisers' innings. His 68 off 62 was a crucial component to the structure of Hyderabad's innings. It was he whom the team was able to play around, he who provided the solidity to the innings. Yet at the same time, a strike rate of 109 is simply not high enough for this format or this ground. 

It would have certainly been more acceptable had the rest of the SRH batsmen attacked around him, accelerating the innings. But they didn't. And as a result, his innings can perhaps be seen to have cost the Sunrisers.

I don't know. Who do you blame? Finch himself for not changing his approach, having batted so long with so few attacking around him? Or those who failed to attack themselves? His opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, or Lokesh Rahul at three?

As always, the truth is probably somewhere in between the two. Dhawan and Lokesh faced 24 balls, scoring just 21 runs. But Finch batted for 62 balls—41 more. And his strike rate never accelerated despite facing the balls he did and being in for as long as he was. 

It's hard to blame a guy like Finch who scored 68 runs, but T20 cricket is a cruel master. Matches are won and lost sometimes in the most obvious fashion, but at other times in such inconspicuous fashion.

On Monday, an innings of 68 off 62 balls could well have been the difference between the Mumbai Indians and the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Heck, Mumbai had eight balls left when they reached the SRH target. A handful more boundaries and a dozen more runs could have seen Mumbai lose. 

I suppose Aaron Finch didn't play badly. He just didn't play well enough.