Sunrisers to meet Chennai in IPL final

The Sunrisers Hyderabad players celebrate their win in Eliminator 2. (Photo courtesy IPL)

(IPL) Sunrisers Hyderabad set up a date with the Chennai Super Kings in the VIVO IPL 2018 final after they defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders in the penultimate match of the season last evening.

In Qualifier 2 played at the Eden Gardens, the Sunrisers batted first, posted 174-7, and then restricted their opponents to 161-9 to win by 13 runs.  Rashid Khan had the perfect match; the teenager from Afghanistan made crucial contributions in all three departments – batting, bowling and fielding, and had the biggest influence on his team’s victory.

Put in to bat, the Sunrisers openers WriddhimanSaha and Shikhar Dhawan didn’t have too many opportunities to free their arms early on; the pair respected the testing spell from the KKR bowlers.

Dhawan was the first to cut loose; the slightest error in line or length, he converted to boundaries. The opening partnership had swelled to 56, at which point Kuldeep Yadav struck twice in one over to trigger a mini-collapse. Dhawan (34 from 24 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) was the first to be dismissed – leg before attempting a sweep, after which Kane Williamson edged one to the wicket-keeper.

A little later, the other well-set batsman Saha (35 from 27 balls) would be stumped off the bowling of Piyush Chawla, and SRH had slipped to 84-3.

Shakib al Hasan and Deepak Honda resisted briefly before the former was run out backing up too far at the non-striker’s end – Kuldeep Yadav getting a touch on the ball hit straight down the ground.  The reputed big-hitters – Hooda, Yusuf Pathan and Carlos Brathwaite – couldn’t do too much damage and the Sunrisers were staring at the possibility of finishing with a total under 160.

But Khan, batting at number eight, feasted on the inexperienced KKR bowlers at the death, helped himself to a career-best 34 (off just 10 balls) and took his team to a total of 174.

The Sunrisers, who had only managed 45 and 68 in the first two periods of play, added 61 runs in the last five overs to get to 174-7; they scored 14, 18 and 24 off the last three overs bowled by Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi.  Not surprisingly, the three spinners were KKR’s best bowlers. Between them, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep returned combined figures of 11-0-75-4.

The Knight Riders got off to a brisk start with Chris Lynn and Narine taking on the Sunrisers bowlers early on; the latter was severe on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, hitting him for three fours and a six in the third over.

 After Narine (26 from 13 balls) holed out to Brathwaite in the fourth over, Lynn and Nitish Rana ensured the scoring rate was maintained in a 47-run second-wicket partnership.

Their association ended when Rana (22 from 16 balls) was run out in the ninth over.

KKR were 87-2 at that stage. Khan then cleaned up the KKR middle order to put his team firmly in control of the match.

KKR, who were 67-1 at the end of the powerplay, lost five wickets for the addition of 51 runs in the middle overs. The presence of Shubman Gill at one end kept KKR’s hopes alive though.   KKR needed 19 from the final over, but Brathwaite struck twice in succession – including dismissing Gill caught on the boundary – to dash the home fans’ hopes. KKR finished at 161-9.

Apart from Khan’s three-wicket haul, there were other contributions for SRH. Shakib al Hasan made a crucial contribution with the ball; apart from keeping the runs down in his three overs, the left-arm spinner also dismissed KKR’s top run-getter of the season and their captain Dinesh Karthik while Siddarth Kaul and Brathwaite chipped in with two wickets each.

Khan walked out to bat when the Sunrisers total read 134-7 with 13 deliveries remaining in the innings. The SRH number eight faced 10 of those deliveries – two of which he hit for fours, and four of which he deposited into the stands. The 19-year old finished unbeaten on 34 – his highest score in T20 cricket. The stand-out stroke in his innings was the whip off the pads off Prasidh Krishna in the final over; he took a step towards the off-side, and effortlessly whipped the delivery into the stands backward of square-leg.

After hurting KKR with the bat earlier in the evening,  Khan destroyed them when he got the chance to bowl. The leg-spinner from Afghanistan struck three big blows in his four-over spell. He dismissed Robin Uthappa at the start of the 11th over, trapped the innings top-scorer Lynn LBW with a well-deceived googly, and drove the final nail when he had the dangerous Russell caught at slip – yet again the batsman not picking a googly. He finished with figures of 3-19  and his spell contained 12 dot deliveries.

He also contributed in the field; running several yards from deep midwicket, picking up the ball one-handed and firing  in a throw on the run which caught Nitish Rana short of his ground. He also held on to two catches in the final over.

Earlier in the evening, by the time Kuldeep Yadav was brought on in the eighth over, the Sunrisers openers had built a solid platform but the left-arm wrist spinner, who has developed a reputation of being a brave bowler, tossed one up full first ball, in line with the stumps, and trapped Shikhar Dhawan leg-before-wicket. Two deliveries later, he tossed one up yet again – which Kane Williamson drove through cover to pick up a brace. The following delivery, Kuldeep had his man; he floated one full and wide outside off, this time a wrong ‘un, which the batsman didn’t pick and attempted the loose drive, only to edge one to the wicket-keeper. Kuldeep had dismissed the two big fish in the SRH line-up in his first over. The left-arm spinner finished his four overs for returns of 2-29.

Khan became the fourth cricketer in the history of the IPL to score 30 or more, take 3 or more wickets & hold on to 2 catches – all in one IPL match. The others to accomplish the match treble earlier were Ravindra Jadeja (2013), JP Duminy (2015) and Ben Stokes (2017).

Brief Scores:

Sunrisers Hyderabad 174-7 (WriddhimanSaha 35, Shikhar Dhawan 34, Shakib al Hasan 28, Rashid Khan 34*, Kuldeep Yadav 2-29) beat

Kolkata Knight Riders 161-9 (Chris Lynn 48, Sunil Narine 26, Shubman Gill 30, Rashid Khan 3-19, SiddhartKaul 2-32, Carlos Brathwaite 2-16) by 13 runs.

Man of the Match:

Rashid Khan, for his all-around performance (34*, 3-19, 2 catches & 1 run out assist)

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