SRH got off to a terrific start courtesy David Warner and Manish Pandey, who raced to 51 for 1 after the powerplay. The partnership threatened to bat out RR of the match (and tournament) and SRH had reached 86 for the loss of Kane Williamson’s wicket at the half-way mark – Warner on 29 off 24 balls and Pandey, the aggressor unbeaten on 42 off 22 deliveries.
SRH crossed 100 in just the 12th over at the end of which they had moved to 103 for the loss of just one wicket. They had, collectively hit 10 boundaries in this period and scored at a strike rate of 143.
All the RR fast bowlers had taken a bit of a beating – Varun Aaron had conceded 17 in his 2 overs, Oshane Thomas and Jaydev Unadkat went for 18 and 16 in their 2 overs while Stuart Binny was taken for 10 in the solitary over he had bowled in this phase of play.
Then came the turning point!
Thomas saw the back of Warner off the first delivery of the 13th over courtesy a brilliant diving catch by Steven Smith. The run-rate dropped as Thomas along with the two leggies – Riyan Prayag and Shreyas Gopal – cut off the boundaries and kept a tight leash on Pandey and the new batsman, Vijay Shankar. Only 18 runs were scored in the 16 deliveries post Warner’s dismissal with just one hit to the fence. Pandey had scored just 11 and Shankar just 7 off 8 deliveries each since the departure of Warner.
Gopal got rid of the danger-man Pandey for 61 (36 balls) off the last ball of the 15th over. Aaron returned for the 16th and sent an out of sorts Shankar packing caught of a mistimed pull for 8 off 10 deliveries. Unadkat deceived Deepak Hooda with a slower one taking a brilliant catch of his own bowling sending the batsman back to the pavilion for a golden duck.
From 103 for 1 after 12 overs, SRH were reduced to 131 for 5 after 17 overs. Just 28 had been scored in 5 overs at a strike rate of 93.33. The SRH batsmen could score only one boundary in this period – such was the control of the RR bowlers in these 5 overs.
The fast bowlers continued to pick wickets putting pressure on the RR batsmen. Thomas got the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha conceding just 6 runs off the 18th while Unadkat, easily the pick of the RR bowlers, got the better of Shakib Al Hasan of the first ball of the 19th giving away just 5 of the over.
Although Aaron was tonked for 18 in the final over, RR, led by Unadkat, had made a terrific comeback in the match and restricted SRH to a manageable 160 for 8.
The period between the 13th and the 19th over was the game-changer for RR. From 103 for 1 to 142 for 7 – it was a monumental effort by the bowlers to get their team back in the match.
Not only were they brilliantly restrictive going for just 39 runs in 7 overs in this period (conceding just one boundary), they also picked as many as 6 wickets in this phase of play breaking the back of the SRH middle and lower order which had largely gone untested in the tournament and was exposed today.
6 of the 7 overs bowled in this period went for 6 or less runs – such was the stranglehold of the RR bowlers in this period.
Unadkat went for just 10 runs off his final 2 overs to finish with 2-26 off his quota of 4 overs. Thomas returned with 2-28 in his 4 overs.
It was a special comeback effort from the RR bowlers to keep their team afloat in the tournament.
First Published: April 28, 2019, 8:35 AM IST