While Sanju Samson's 55-ball 102* and Ajinkya Rahane's 49-ball 70 defined elegance in every possible way, Hyderabad's batting was all about brute force. It all started with David Warner smacking 69 off just 37 balls before Vijay Shankar stepped out to deliver the knock out blow, leaving Rajasthan out cold.
Opting to bat, Samson found ample support from his skipper Rahane as the two added 119 runs for the second wicket to give Rajasthan a solid platform. However, what followed in the last five overs was total carnage, but with a touch of elegance.
The 24-year-old crafted his second IPL century and hit 10 fours and four sixes in his knock. The visiting side pummeled 76 runs in the last 30 deliveries, with Samson doing most of the damage as they finished on 198 for 2 in 20 overs.
In reply, David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on 110 runs for the opening wicket to get Hyderabad off to a superb start. However, there was still a job to be done when those two departed and that's when Vijay took over, smoking 35 runs in no time. Yusuf Pathan and Rashid Khan then provided the finishing touch and helped Hyderabad pull off their highest run chase in the history of this competition.
Earlier, Hyderabad seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma started well and were also able to generate some movement off the track. The two kept Ajinkya Rahane and Jos Buttler (5) in check for the first three overs, but it was the adroit decision of introducing Rashid early that did the trick for the home team.
Despite Rashid's reputation, Buttler tried to go after him and ended up getting his leg-stump uprooted while playing a sweep.
Rahane tried his best to fill Buttler's shoes and played some mistimed aerial shots, but failed to create that same impact as Hyderabad could only manage 35 runs in the first six overs. With Rahane struggling at the other end, Samson decided to up the ante and smashed a couple of maximums through the mid-wicket region to break the shackles.
Rahane too finally came to his own when he slammed Shahbaz Nadeem for a six down the ground. Runs started flowing from both ends as Sidarth Kaul and Vijay Shankar failed to keep both batsmen in control.
In the process, both Rahane and Samson brought up their half-centuries. Rahane, who was one 15 off 28 deliveries, hit 45 runs in his next 21 deliveries, that also included an eye-pleasing six over covers. The massive stand finally came to an end when Nadeem had Rahane caught at long-on in the 16th over, but only after the right-hander had crafted four fours and three sixes to provide remaining batsmen a solid platform.
Rajasthan sent out Ben Stokes to do the power hitting but little did they and the audience know that they were going to witness the brilliance of Samson. The right-hander from Kerala was at his very best in the 17th over against one of the best death bowlers, Bhuvneshwar.
The over started with a gentle push over extra cover for an astonishing six and then followed it up with back-to-back fours through the point region. He could only manage two runs in the next ball but finished the over with two more boundaries to collect 24 runs from the over.
Things kept getting worse for Bhuvneshwar as he leaked 21 more in the final over. Samson completed his century with a straight-arm pull for four before Stokes took over and cheekily got three more boundaries to rip Bhuvneshwar apart. The Indian seamer conceded 45 runs in his final two overs and ended with figures of 0 for 55.
The chase was never going to be easy for Hyderabad but Warner is not one of those who was going to throw in the towel. The Australian left-hander glanced the very first delivery for four and made his intentions very clear. The carnage didn't stop there as Warner muscled one over the cow corner fence before slamming K Gowtham for a couple of boundaries in the second over. The 32-year-old kept playing his shots and brought up his fifty only in the sixth over.
While Warner had most of the strike in the first few overs, Bairstow too went about his business at a pretty good rate. The Englishman carved Jofra Archer for consecutive fours as Hyderabad ended the powerplay with 69 runs on the board.
The two didn't allow Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal to settle in and kept finding boundaries at regular intervals. They put on 110 runs - their second 100-plus partnership in as many games - before Stokes finally got rid of Warner. The left-hander blasted nine fours and two sixes before getting caught at fine leg while playing a pull shot.
Stokes could have had his country-mate Bairstow in the same over if Dhawal Kulkarni wouldn't have dropped a simple chance at third man region.
Kulkarni, however, redeemed himself in the very next over when he took a blinder off Shreyas' bowling at long off to send Bairstow back. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 45 in 28 deliveries and did his job to perfection. Returning from an injury, Kane Williamson (14) played a couple of gorgeous shots before falling to Jaydev Unadkat.
Coming in at No. 4, Vijay wasted no time and tonked three maximums in the space of six deliveries to bring the required run rate to almost six runs per over. Just when it looked like Hyderabad will get over the line with utmost ease, Shreyas got rid of Vijay and Manish Pandey in successive deliveries to brings Rajasthan right back in the game. While Vijay was caught at long on, Pandey was pinned right in front of the stumps for 1.
Needing 30 in 24 balls, Pathan (16*) and Rashid (15*) batted smartly before the latter got the job done with a four and six in the penultimate over.
First Published: March 30, 2019, 8:25 AM IST