Sunrisers Hyderabad put up a superlative batting performance to overcome the massive challenge of Rajasthan Royals by seven runs at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday. Sunrisers took the big risk of leaving out both their main strike bowlers -- Trent Boult and Dale Steyn -- to shore up their weak batting. Ravi Bopara was brought into the playing eleven, but it was Eoin Morgan, who finally lived up to expectations with a skillful 63 from merely 28 balls. Shikhar Dhawan also chipped in with a half century, as Sunrisers crossed the 200-mark, batting first.
Chasing a difficult target, Rajasthan needed to get off to an assured start, but it wasn’t to be as the in-form Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson fell early. Karun Nair and Deepak Hooda also went cheaply, and it was left to Steven Smith to keep Rajasthan’s innings in tact. He made a pleasing 68 from 40 balls, but it was not enough to get Rajasthan close to the target. The game seemed all, but over until Chris Morris blasted three successive sixes off Praveen Kumar. Morris remained unbeaten on 34 from 11, but Sunrisers held on for a seven-run win.
Sunrisers began well with David Warner and Dhawan adding 48 in quick time. Warner, however, fell for 24 nicking Watson behind the stumps. Moises Henriques was promoted to number three to get the momentum going, but it was Dhawan who shone, pulling and punching with ease. He fell immediately after crossing his fifty, but Morgan ensured that this time the middle order did not undo the good work. Using the straight boundary to great effect, he raced to his half-century off 23 balls. Morgan was especially severe on Morris and Pravin Tambe as Sunrisers made 201 for 4.
Rajasthan would still have been hopeful of them chasing down the total since Rahane has been in such spectacular form. But, chasing down 200 is something that doesn’t happen often even in T20 cricket. The probability reduced further as Rahane was dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 8. Ishant Sharma also got among the wickets by getting the big scalp of Watson. With Karun Nair and Deepak Hooda also falling in single-figure scores, the match seemed over as far as Rajasthan were concerned. They had slid to 77 for 4 after 11 overs.
A couple of big overs, however, can turn things around in a T20 game. And, Rajasthan proved the same although they fell short in the end. Even as the wickets kept falling at one end, Smith kept finding the boundaries and kept the team’s slim hopes alive. James Faulkner and Sanju Samson came up with cameos, but it was Morris who provided the unexpected scare with his lusty hitting. Bhuvneshwar and Praveen’s figures were spoilt in the process, but they held their nerve to take the team through to a confidence-boosting win.
--By A Cricket Correspondent