New Delhi: Sunday’s afternoon encounter between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad was expected to be a nail-bitter with Kane Williamson and boys looking to make it three wins in a row in the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium has been Rajasthan’s fortress over the years and with Hyderabad defending 118 and 132 in their last two encounters, Williamson’s boys were expected to give Ajinkya Rahane’s Royals a run for their money. And that is exactly what happened as SRH beat RR by 11 runs.
Chasing 152 for a victory, Rajasthan started off poorly, losing Rahul Tripathi for just 4 as Sandeep Sharma once again started well for Hyderabad. But Sanju Samson and skipper Ajinkya Rahane looked pretty comfortable and kept running the ones and twos and picked the odd boundary. While Samson did play a few risky shots, Rahane was more than happy playing second fiddle.
Just when it looked like the match was in the bag for Rajasthan, Siddarth Kaul came back in the 10th over to dismiss Samson for 40, caught by Alex Hales at short mid-wicket. Having played really well, it was a casual shot that saw Samson walk back to the dug-out. After 10 overs, Rajasthan’s score reads 72/2, needing 80 off the last 10 overs with 8 wickets in the hand.
But Samson’s dismissal changed the complexion of the game as Rajasthan lost Ben Stokes (0) and Jos Buttler (10) in quick succession as the score read 102/4 after 15, needing another 50 from the last 5. They not only lost wickets, but Rahane also failed to play the aggressor’s role and the result was taking things too deep into the innings for the home side.
With Rahane still at the crease, RR needed 27 off the last two overs and it should have been a walk in the park for the home team. But Williamson once again showed why he is turning into one of the best captains in the T20 format. He turned to Kaul and the pacer removed the dangerous looking Lomror for 11, caught beautifully by Wriddhiman Saha. This after Kaul gave Rahane a single off the first ball.
Coming back to strike after last-match’s hero with the bat Gowtham took a single, Rahane first ran a double to the point boundary and then missed the last ball as RR now needed 21 off the last over as Williamson handed the ball to Basil Thampi.
Gowtham started with a boundary off the first ball as RR now needed 17 off 5 balls. But the next one was just a single as the Royals now needed 16 off 4 balls as Rahane took strike. Rahane took a single off the next as RR now needed 15 off 3 balls. Gowtham picked two off the fourth ball as RR needed 13 off 2. Thampi got Gowtham (8) off the next one as SRH celebrated as RR now needed 13 off the last ball.
Earlier, it was a good toss to win for Williamson and he had no hesitation to bat first. But the call didn’t go as per plan as Hyderabad lost Shikhar Dhawan in the third over, bowled by K Gowtham for just 6. After that, it was some quality batsmanship from Williamson and Alex Hales as the two kept the scoring rate going.
While they did not take too many chances, they kept running the singles and hit one boundary an over to ensure that the scoreboard kept moving. In fact, even though it looked like RR were quickly going through their overs, the scoring rate was up to the 7-run mark as SRH built the foundation for a late order flourish.
And the flourish did start in the 12th over as Williamson hit Unadkat for 21 runs. Hyderabad had reached 99/1 after 12 overs and it looked like a big score was on the offing. But the joy was shortlived as Hales was dismissed by Gowtham in the 14th over for 45. Ish Sodhi got the important wicket of Williamson (63) in the very next over as Hyderabad failed to accelerate in the death overs.
In the end, they could manage just 31 runs from the last 5 overs as they also lost 4 wickets to end on 151/7 in their 20 overs.