After recording an imposing 194 for five, turbocharged by skipper David Warner’s 50-ball 92, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) choked Royal Challengers Bangalore’s chase on 179 for six at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium on Saturday night.
When the pursuit began, Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul seemed inseparable, taking the Challengers to 42 in just five overs. It took the ‘Fizz’ to break the partnership. Kohli stepped out to Mustafizur Rahman, only to play into the hands of Ashish Reddy at point.
Rahul was swift with his singles as he was in getting behind the line of the ball. The only flaw he made, a snick off Moises Henriques, was gloved by Naman Ojha.
Reprieved twice, at 3 by Nehra and 17 by Deepak Hooda, both off Barinder Sran, A.B. de Villiers ransacked the attack. Sran had the last laugh though, engineering the Protean power-hitter’s exit, as he holed out to Kane Williamson at long on. The left-arm paceman had earlier sent back Shane Watson with a direct hit.
Sachin Baby tormented the bowlers, showing no signs of being a debutant till he lofted Nehra to Shikhar Dhawan at long on.
Invited to bat, Sunrisers’ openers kept the near full house entertained at the rate of a boundary an over. Apprehensions of the pitch sweating, since it was under wraps for quite some time following mild showers that set back the start by an hour, seemed unfounded. So were they unfazed by their side’s unfavourable 4-7 record when batting first.
A clever change of pace by Richardson saw Dhawan pop a catch back to the strapping speedster. If new man in Williamson was a shade sedate in approach, Warner, undeterred by his partner’s departure, was hard to pin down.
After pounding Harshal Patel on a free hit into the sight screen, he steered the medium-pacer to the boundary, backward of square.
Nearing his half century, the Sunrisers’ skipper went into overdrive. When calmly gliding a Varun Aaron steepler off the back foot to the third man boundary, he took his sweet time with the stroke.
Bowling changes after each over couldn’t quite contain Sunrisers’ combative captain. He then switched gears to destructive mode, carting Parvez Rasool and Richardson over long on, upper cutting the latter over third man for another big one.
Williamson couldn’t quite keep up but moved into position in advance to on-drive Watson for a four. Soon after, a smack off Aaron bounced once before taking a rabbit hop into the square leg hoardings.
Anything but nervous in his nineties, his 24th half century in the league behind him, with the full force of his forearms not quite there, Warner lofted Shamsi to de Villiers at long off.
Williamson edged Watson, the graze gathered by Rahul behind the stumps. Henriques did more than his bit, heaving three huge hits and a boundary in an unbeaten 14-ball cameo that produced 31 runs.