Right through this season of the Indian Premier League, Sunrisers Hyderabad have depended heavily on their bowlers to pull from them back from seemingly winless positions. And, on more occasions than not, they have delivered. Friday’s game against Rajasthan Royals, played under the cloud of the spot-fixing scandal, was no different. Batting first, the Sunrisers somehow crawled their way to a total, which would give their bowlers something decent to defend. But, the Sunrisers’ bowlers were so good on the day that they ended up overcoming a confident Rajasthan with ease.
As has been the case in many of the earlier games, it was a complete team effort by the bowling side. Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma stifled the Rajasthan openers with some pacy stuff, as a result of which Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane could not get off to a confident start in spite of spending a significant amount of time out in the middle. Dravid’s run out in this context could have been viewed as a blessing in disguise since the big-hitting Shane Watson was the next man in. But, no batsman on this day was good enough to tackle the inspired Sunrisers’ bowlers.
While all the Royals’ batsmen struggled, it was the strike rate of some that gave a clear indication of how brilliantly the Sunrisers bowled. Rahane’s strike rate was 48 and the monstrous hitter Watson was striking at 55. Even as Steyn was brilliant upfront, the other bowlers took full advantage of the pressure built. Rahane tried to hit out against Karan Sharma only to head back to the pavilion while Watson tried to relieve the pressure by going after Thisara Perera, but even he could not succeed in his endeavour to rescue Rajasthan.
With the batting side under immense pressure, Mishra came in and, yet again ensured that there was no respite for Rajasthan. Young Sanju Samson has proved to be a thorn for many IPL opponents, but Mishra saw to it that he did not inflict any damage this time round. He put Rajasthan in further trouble sending back Sachin Baby. Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge were the only rays of hope left for Rajasthan. However, Perera and Steyn combined to an end to any faint chance of Dravid’s men, who have already qualified for the play-offs, recovering.
Things were rather difficult for Sunrisers when they batted first earlier in the day. Left-arm seamer James Faulkner was sensational yet again, grabbing a five-for to heavily destroy Sunrisers chances of winning the clash. However, Cameron White’s men managed to post a decent score courtesy a fighting half-century from Biplab Samantray. His knock not only steadied the ship, but also gave some confidence to the Sunrisers’ camp. Rajasthan had only themselves to blame, for Rahane had Samantray run out with a throw, but no one cared to appeal. In the end, Sunrisers’ total proved to be too much for Rajasthan to chase down.
Turning point of the game: Watson’s dismissal for 11 was a body blow for Rajasthan Royals.
--By A Cricket Analyst