Sunrisers go top after defending low total

Colin de Grandhomme of the Royal Challengers Bangalore is bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 33. Photo courtesy of IPL website)

(IPL) Sunrisers Hyderabad maintained their 100% record in defending totals this season after they defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by five runs last night. On a slow surface at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad, SRH posted 146 riding on Captain Kane Williamson’s half-century. Later in the night, it was the all-too-familiar story of the SRH bowlers raising their game and strangling the opposition; RCB could only get to 141-6.  Put in to bat, the Sunrisers lost Alex Hales, Shikhar Dhawan, and Manish Pandey with just 48 runs on the board. The innings was revived by Williamson, who once again batted responsibly. He found an able ally in Shakib al Hasan, with whom he added 64 runs for the fourth wicket. But after both batsmen were dismissed in the space of eight deliveries, the innings collapsed in a heap; SRH lost five wickets for 12 runs in the last two overs to be bowled out for 146.

At the end of their powerplay, RCB were 55-1, with Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli seemingly having the chase under control. After Parthiv was dismissed LBW, RCB lost three wickets – including those of Captain Kohli and AB de Villiers –  in quick time to slip to 84-5. Even a 57-run partnership between Mandeep Singh (21 not out) and Colin de Grandhomme (33 from 29 balls) could only take them to 141.  Williamson produced yet another Captain’s knock for the Sunrisers. On a difficult pitch, the 27-year old showed he had the game and the temperament to adapt to the demands of the situation, and helped himself to his fifth half-century of the season. Williamson batted at a run-a-ball pace until he had reached 31. In the 14th over, Umesh Yadav offered him a freebie on the leg stump and he converted that to a boundary. Later in the same over, he effortlessly deposited a leg stump full toss into the stands at square-leg. In the 15th, he played a rare slog-sweep and sent a Yuzvendra Chahal delivery into the stands. In the following over, he was back to being the classical player, this time piercing the gap on the off-side and collecting a boundary through extra-cover.

Williamson was dismissed in the same over when he miscued a slower delivery and was caught at deep square-leg. The SRH Captain had made a fine 56; his 39-ball innings decorated with five fours & two sixes.

The only other noteworthy contribution in the SRH innings came from Shakib al Hasan, who made 35 from 32 balls. The left-hander struck five boundaries, and stitched together with his Captain what would be the biggest partnership of the match. He was dismissed in the 18th over when he pulled a short delivery from Tim Southee but hit it straight down the throat of Umesh Yadav who had been moved to that position just then.

The Sunrisers bowlers had created a reputation for themselves; they had defended 118, 132 and 151 earlier in the season. Hence there was a certain expectation that they would be able to defend 146. Last night’s performance wasn’t their best with the ball, yet when it came to the crunch moments, the bowlers lifted their game and provided the timely breakthroughs. It would be hard to pick one particular bowler as being the stand out performer; the wickets were shared by all the five bowlers used. Shakib had conceded two boundaries in his first over, but came back strongly to dismiss Parthiv Patel. He then accounted for the big wicket of  Kohli, Yusuf Pathan playing an important role in the dismissal taking a very good one-handed catch at point.

Rashid Khan, who took some tap in his final over, accounted for the big scalp of AB de Villiers, the South African dragging a googly back onto his stumps. Siddarth Kaul bowled a fine 19th over, conceding only seven singles, leaving 12 to defend in the final over. Bhuvneshwar, who conceded only six in the 20th, finished with figures of 1-27. SRH’s one remaining bowler – Sandeep Sharma – was the most economical bowler in the match, returning figures of 4-0-20-1.

For RCB, Tim Southee & Mohammed Siraj picked up three wickets each; both bowlers dismissed one opener each, and then collected two wickets in their later overs. Siraj, conceded eight runs in the 19th over but also dismissed Yusuf Pathan and Wriddhiman Saha, while Southee dismissed Shakib in the 18th and returned to dismiss Sandeep Sharma off the last ball of the innings.

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