It’s been a grim few days for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the IPL. A couple of dismissals and rash shots played by the batsmen is all it took for their teams to backslide from a winning position. The sticky and slow wicket at the Chepauk alongside the ominous ‘Death Overs’ conundrum has proven to be daunting for most batsmen – to say the least.
Wednesday’s spicy affair between Royal Challenger’s Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), one could argue, was nothing but a repackaged telecast of the previous day’s encounter between Mumbai Indians (MI) and the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Put in to bat first, MI posed a below-par total of 159 on the board and managed to defend it after KKR’s middle-order bottled the game from a dominant position. Wednesday’s match followed a similar pattern as RCB emerged victorious following a calamitous batting display by SRH in the death overs.
On a dry and sticky wicket, SRH won the toss and put RCB into bat first. The dryness of the wicket was a prophetic marker for a low-scoring game with plenty of gain for the spinners. RCB began their innings cautiously. A returning Devdutt Paddikal opened the innings alongside Virat Kohli. RCB scored a handsome 16 runs of the first two overs with Paddikal looking comfortable at the crease, however, after a few dot balls and a couple of singles, Bhuvneshwar Kumar dismissed him in the third over. Shahbaz Ahmed came in at No.3 in a surprise promotion at the top order. After losing their first wicket, Shahbaz and Kohli steadied the innings, before taking 20 runs each of the 5th and 6th over of the game. A watchful Kohli and an aggressive Shahbaz ensured that RCB took 47 runs of the power-play.
SRH’s spinners applied the brakes in the middle-overs before RCB’s batsmen could even take off. A dependable Rashid Khan bowled a punctual line and length; stemming run-scoring opportunities for the RCB batsmen. SRH were exquisite in the field, catching every ball that went up in the air. Shahbaz Nadeem picked up the wicket of Shahbaz Ahmed but was taken to the cleaners by Glenn Maxwell and Kohli in the 11th over as they took 22 runs off his over. Jason Holder dismissed Kohli in the 13th over and Rashid picked up the all-important wicket of Ab De Villiers in the next over. SRH managed to contain the RCB batsmen by picking up a wicket at crucial junctures during the game. David Warner rotated his bowlers, keeping RCB’s incoming batsmen unsettled for long parts of the game. Rashid consistently puzzled Maxwell and Kohli while the pacers did not provide any width to the batsmen. A half-century by Maxwell, his first after 5 years in the IPL, and a handy cameo by Kyle Jamieson scrambled RCB to a defendable total. Rashid ended with figures of 18-2 while Holder picked up 3 conceding 30 runs during his spell.
At the end of the first innings, SRH were deemed as the favourites considering their batting unit bolstered the likes of David Warner, Manish Pandey and prodigy Abdul Samad, among others. The total was defendable, as proved by MI the previous day. The RCB XI comprised of three spinners; expected to exploit the conditions of the pitch. David Warner opened the innings for SRH alongside Wriddhiman Saha for the second time this year. The pair were expected to build a strong foundation for the chase but Mohammed Siraj had other plans for the openers. Following a maiden in the first over. Siraj dismantled the opening pair sending Saha back to the dressing room in the third over. Siraj and Jamieson kept bowling at the stumps at the beginning of the innings, providing little to no room on offer to Warner and Manish Pandey. Warner, however, unleased himself in the 4th overtaking 17 runs of Jamieson’s bowling. Pandey picked the gaps, hitting a couple of boundaries, early on in his innings. Siraj conceded a paltry 2 runs for a wicket in his first 2 overs, but, bowled a costly third over, in the power-play, conceding 12 runs. SRH scored a formidable 50 runs off the power-play with Warner and Pandey, both, looking set for big scores.
Pandey and Warner brought up their 50 run-stand during the 8th over with Pandey hitting the calculated boundary during the early part of the middle overs. Warner ensured that the scoring rate was kept in reach by rotating the strike. Both the batsmen patiently settled into their game before playing their shots. Kohli rotated up to 7 bowlers to contain the run-flow and in hopes of picking up a wicket. Warner and Pandey forged a crucial partnership before Warner lost his wicket to Jamieson in the 14th over, after reaching his half-century in the previous over.
Pandey mistimed one in the air of Shahbaz Ahmed’s bowling the 15th over, but the ball landed between two fielders. Pandey was given a lifeline, with the responsibility of taking SRH home, now on his shoulders. The stage was set for SRH to safely navigate the final overs and cross the finishing line. With Johnny Bairstow alongside, both Pandey and him were expected to finish the game comprehensively, but the dread of the ‘Death Overs’ at the Chepauk had not even begun.
Kohli entrusted Shahbaz Ahmed with the ball in the 17th over, in what proved to be the turning point of the match. Following a handy over by Yuzvendra Chahal, Ahmed was expected to tame the batsmen as they looked to inch closer to victory. In search of a six, Bairstow launched the ball high into the night sky, but to no avail, as he found himself dismissed for 12 of 13 deliveries. On the very next ball, Ahmed managed to pick up the prized wicket of Pandey, as he tried to reach the ball, inevitably resulting in a rash swing at it leading to his dismissal. In what turned the fortunes of RCB, Ahmed picked up his third wicket dismissing hard-hitting Abdul Samad of the final delivery of the over. Ahmed picked up 3 crucial wickets in the 17th over conceding just 7 runs, denting the hope of a victory for SRH. An eventful 19th over provided a glimpse of hope for SRH. Rashid Khan hit Siraj for a six of his first ball, Jason Holder lost his wicket and Siraj ended conceding 11 off his final over. A late dash by Rashid Khan saw SRH needing 16 off the last over. RCB’s hero from the last match, Harshal Patel, was handed the ball for the final over. Patel had bowled a no-ball in the previous over he bowled and conceded another in the final over of the game, of which Rashid hit a boundary. However, Patel finished strongly as he dismissed Shahbaz Nadeem while Rashid was run-out in the final over.
SRH lost 6 wickets for less than 50 runs in their death overs. SRH’s middle-order did not show a pinch of composure as they curated their downfall. The RCB’s bowlers, on the other hand, proved their worth as they propelled their team to victory. Glenn Maxwell was granted the Man of the Match for his vital half-century. SRH are yet to win a match at the Chepauk in this edition of the IPL.