On Sunday, Williamson was run out without facing a ball as Sunrisers Hyderabad stuttered up front in their chase of 193 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. They eventually lost by 67 runs to enter do-or-die territory as far as playoffs qualifications is concerned, with three matches remaining of their league campaign.
“We’ve thought about that,” Moody said, when asked if Rahul Tripathi, and not Williamson, should open the innings on current form. “But we felt that Tripathi-[Aiden] Markram-[Nicholas] Pooran at 3-4-5 have been one of our strengths of our batting.
“To be fair to Kane, he didn’t even face a ball today, so it’ll be pretty hard to judge his form on today’s outing. We back him, he’s a world-class player, there’s no question of that. He’ll have his moment to stamp his authority on the tournament.”
Moody called for more patience with Malik as he acclimatises to the sheer volume of top-flight cricket he’s played lately. Between the previous IPL season and this one, he featured in just one first-class game, three List-A matches and seven T20s.
“It’s a real learning experience for him,” Moody said. “You have to look at the volume of cricket he has played, which is very minimal, really. This run of games in a row for him is something he’s not used to. He’s not used to playing this regular cricket but the high intensity of cricket the IPL is. He’s on a very steep learning curve. Over the last couple of outings, there’s no question that he hasn’t quite got it right. We’re doing our best to support him and guide him to learn from these experiences.”
Reflecting on Sunday’s loss, which puts Sunrisers in a tight position as far as the race for playoffs spots goes, Moody felt they conceded 20-25 more runs than they should have. Two dropped catches – one early in the innings and another one at the end – didn’t help either.
Faf du Plessis, who was dropped on 26 by Tripathi in the eighth over, carried his bat through to make 73 not out. Then, Dinesh Karthik was let off in the final over by Tripathi once again, when he was on 8. Apart from the drop being palmed over deep midwicket, the next three balls disappeared for two sixes and a four as the young Afghan debutant Fazalhaq Farooqi conceded 25 off the final over.
“I think it’s just the small margins that we didn’t capitalise on,” Moody said. “We shouldn’t have been chasing the total we ended up chasing. We dropped two key catches which sort of out us under pressure. We failed to execute our plans to a couple of players that we’d discussed.
“When you’re missing out on those small margins, it makes it difficult for your batting group to chase 20-25 runs more than it should have been. And then you have a situation where you have a run-out in the very first over, which was an interesting outcome for us [Williamson was given out even though replays suggested that some part of the bat may have been over the line], and then losing a wicker straight after that, you’re immediately on the back foot. It did make the run chase a lot bigger than it should have been.”
Moody disagreed with the suggestion that the batting had been a letdown. He pointed out that the bowlers – Sunrisers’ stronger suit – had conceded tall totals that had shifted the pressure onto the batters. Sunrisers have conceded scores of 199, 202, 207 and 192 in their last four games.
“Most of the season we’ve batted pretty well,” Moody said. “We’ve missed a couple of games where it’s been more about our execution with the ball than the bat and we’ve been asking our batters to chase a bit like today – 20-25 more runs than we should have done.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo