Manish Pandey smashed eight sixes in a blistering 83 after Jason Holder made an instant impact with the ball as Sunrisers Hyderabad kept themselves in the race for IPL play-offs with an eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals here on Thursday. Pandey and Vijay Shankar (52) stitched an unbroken 140-run partnership after Holder led a disciplined bowling display to restrict Rajasthan Royals to 154 for six.
Playing his first match of the tournament, Holder (3/33) came up with an impressive bowling effort while also affecting a run out to destabilise the RR innings. Rashid Khan (1/20) and Vijay Shankar (1/15) picked a wicket each. During his unbeaten 47-ball knock, Pandey hit four balls to the fence and eight over it, while Shankar struck six boundaries.
The duo played intelligently in a must-win game for the Sunrisers. With the win, Sunrisers moved up to the fifth spot, while the Royals were pushed down to seventh. The Sunrisers’ chase was off to the worst possible start with skipper David Warner (4) giving away his wicket to Jofra Archer once again in the very first over. The Barbadian-born English pacer then got rid of Jonny Bairstow (10) in his second over.
With the dangerous openers back in the dugout, Pandey made full use of the field restrictions in the first six overs. He targeted young Kartik Tyagi, smashing the right-arm medium pacer for three boundaries and two sixes. Pandey survived an lbw scare in the ninth over. He continued to pick the Rajasthan bowlers with Shankar holding fort at the other end. Eventually the all-rounder, too, found his mojo, hitting back-to-back fours off leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal in the 11 over. He also hit Archer for three successive boundaries. Earlier, Sunrisers, who were struggling at the penultimate spot in the points table with only three wins from nine outings, opted to bowl after winning the toss at the Dubai International Stadium.
For RR, Sanju Samson (36 off 26 balls) was the top scorer. Put in to bat, Robin Uthappa looked in rampaging form, hitting the first four and six of the innings. He quickly raced to 19 off 13 balls.
However, his time in the middle was short lived. After Ben Stokes (30) hit Holder for back-to-back boundaries in the fourth over, the West Indies skipper effected Uthappa’s run out as the Indian was late to turn back at the non-striker’s end. The powerplay overs yielded 47 runs, including six fours and a maximum, for the loss of one wicket.
The big-hitting Stokes was dropped on 17 in the eighth over by Shankar off a Rashid delivery. Alongside Samson, he kept the scoreboard ticking. A 56-run stand between the two was broken in the 12th over by Holder. Samson, who had reached his highest score since the 85 against Kings XI Punjab in RR’s second match of the tournament, was bowled by a slow off-cutter, after pulling the previous delivery over midwicket for a huge six.
Stokes’ stay came to an end when the World Cup winning all-rounder was bowled by Rashid in the beginning of the 13th over, with the Sunrisers bowlers making a strong comeback in the middle overs. RR then lost wickets at regular intervals. Jos Buttler, too, fell quickly as he was sent back by Shankar in the 16th over with skipper Steve Smith (19) also failing to make an impact.