Playing their first home game at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Dhawan and Williamson did not allow the Rajasthan bowlers to dominate and smashed them all over the park. After losing the first wicket, opener Wriddhiman Saha for 5 runs, the duo just piled on the misery on the Royals who at one point looked clueless as Dhawan dealt only in boundaries. But most importantly, Dhawan was given a lifeline right at the top when as he was dropped at first slip by Ajinkya Rahane off Dhawal Kulkarni. The opener was yet to open his account at that stage. From there on he did not put a foot wrong and scored a swashbuckling 77 in just 57 balls. His innings included 13 fours and one six. This was also his 29th fifty in the IPL. Williamson, on the other hand finished the match unbeaten on 36.
Rajasthan bowlers had a torrid outing as they just did not get their length right on a good Uppal track. Except for Kulkarni, who gave away 18 runs in 2.5 overs, every other bowler leaked runs. Jaydev Unadkat was far too short at times and was hit for two boundaries in one over by Dhawan. Aussie bowler Ben Laughlin was at the receiving end too as he was smashed for 20 runs in two overs.
Earlier in the day, it wasn’t the kind of start that Rajasthan would have hoped for after coming back into the league after a gap of two years. Their batsmen didn’t quite play the way they should have, and could only post 125/9 on the board in their allotted 20 overs.
Rahane, the skipper of the side and D’arcy Short could only score 13 and four respectively before going back to the pavilion. Sanju Samson did try to stabilize the Royals innings with his watchful 49 from 42 balls, but that was not enough to take his team to a fighting total.
Rajasthan innings was marked by wickets at regular intervals, and just couldn’t get partnerships going. From being 48/1 in the first six overs, they could just add 77 runs in the next 14.
Their big buy Ben Stokes could not prove his worth with the bat as he was constantly troubled by leg-spinner Rashid Khan. In just his first over, he appealed against Stokes twice. The southpaw finally fell to Billy Stanlake while trying to up the run-rate.
His departure put extra pressure on the relatively inexperienced middle-order and none of the batsmen could get going after that. Rahul Tripathi, who rose to fame in the previous edition of IPL, departed for 17 from 15 balls. Another England international Jos Buttler fell cheaply and could not bail his team out of trouble.
Sunrisers were extraordinary with the ball as they did not let any of the batsmen to settle on the wicket. All the bowlers contributed in restricting the opposition to a low score, and enhanced their reputation as one of the best bowling units in the IPL.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar troubled the batsmen with his impeccable lines and returned with figures of 1/30. He was ably supported by Billy Stanlake who also chipped in with a wicket. But these performances were overshadowed by the exploits of pacer Siddharth Kaul who got the wickets of Ajinkya Rahane and Krishnappa Gowtham. In his quota of four overs, he just gave away just 17 runs.
As usual it was a great outing for Rashid. The batsmen were unable to pick his googlies and found it hard to score runs off him. The other spinner in the team, Shakib Al Hasan finished with two wickets too.
First Published: April 10, 2018, 8:11 AM IST