Australia’s T20 specialist Brad Hodge played a wonderfully composed knock under extreme pressure at the Feroz Shah Kotla, which was instrumental in Rajasthan Royals staying alive in the tournament, and knocking out debutants Sunrisers Hyderabad. His calmness under pressure was the most striking aspect of Hodge’s knock, which was also an exhibition of the experience he has gained in T20, which served him very well on the big day. Rajasthan were in all sorts of strife when Hodge walked into the middle. They had lost half their side to a miserable collapse, and their target was still a fair way away. This is where Hodge’s hardened skills made the difference.
Hodge singlehandedly stood between the Sunrisers and victory. Had it not been for his superlative effort, Rajasthan might well have been the one eliminated. This is not an exaggeration. The Sunrisers bowled in a combative manner. Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma and Darren Sammy are combined very well to put Rajasthan on the backfoot. Of course, Rajasthan did not help their cause by playing some exceedingly poor shots. However, they failed to make any sort of impression on Hodge. This, and the lack of runs at their disposal, was the difference in the end.
Earlier in the innings, the Sunrisers had a great opportunity to put Rajasthan under pressure after they elected to bat first. However, their overall batting effort was highly dissatisfactory. The most disappointing aspect of the Sunrisers’ performance with the bat was that a number of their batsmen looked good, but not one could come up with a substantial score. The loss of in-form Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari at the very beginning of the innings was a big setback, but they recovered well enough thanks to the fluent partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Cameron White, But, this is where they slipped.
Both White and Dhawan gave their wickets away after crossing their 30’s. Although the figure is considered a substantial one in T20 cricket, it wasn’t big enough considering what followed before and after. Things could have been different had at least one of the following batsmen hung around till the end. But, that did not prove to be the case. Darren Sammy promised to do so for a while, but like Dhawan and White, he also fell much before reaching a significant score. The rest of the batsmen were simply poor, which gave Rajasthan the upper hand at the halfway stage.
Rajasthan’s bowling was highly impressive throughout as it has been for most of the season. With Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan and Sreesanth out of the reckoning for reasons well known, Vikramjeet Malik got his lucky break. And, to his credit, Malik grabbed his opportunities with both chances. His early dismissals of Patel and Vihari got Rajasthan off to the perfect start. The rest of the bowlers ensured that the early advantage wasn’t lost. Siddharth Trivedi was extremely mean even as James Faulkner and Shane Watson were steady. Apart from keeping the runs down, they also chipped in with wickets. In the end, all those strikes proved to be extremely crucial.
Turning point of the game:Sunrisers losing two wickets for three runs, from which they could never recover.
--By A Cricket Analyst