Unlike the high-scoring match earlier in the day on Friday, the game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals was a tense low-scoring encounter, but no less exciting. Both the teams found the going tough with the bat, but Rajasthan had the advantage of knowing how much they needed to score for a victory, which can often be a defining factor in a low-scoring match. Sunrisers’ bowlers fought Rajasthan’s batsman tooth and nail in the match, but at the end of the day, they just did not have enough runs to play with.
Rajasthan’s batting in the match was far from impressive, but the crucial partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny took them home. Rahane was not at his fluent best, but the hallmark of a good player is that he doesn’t give it away even when the going is tough. Rahane was beaten by pace and movement a number of times, and was even struck in the helmet by a fast one. Yet, he battled on, and his innings ensured that Rajasthan remained on course for a victory. It was a knock that reiterated Rahane’s fighting abilities.
Binny’s was also an important innings in the context of the match. Knowing that Rajasthan did not need to score at a brisk pace to chase down the target, he placed the balls in the gap very sensibly, and kept the scoreboard moving at the pace needed. Binny may have found the going tough in a couple of international games that he has featured in, but in the IPL he is an experienced hand, and his cool head has often aided the side in tense situations. On Friday too, his knock kept Rajasthan in the game even as important wickets fell at the other end.
The most significant contribution of all actually came from James Faulkner. He has faced only two balls in the innings, but those were in the last over, and both of them were hit for fours, which took them past the finishing line. This is not the first time that Faulkner has come in a played a cameo that has caused heartbreak to thee opponents. In fact, he has famously blasted Australia to victory a couple of times from improbably situations. The manner and regularity with which he is playing such knocks is fast transforming him into a class finisher.
Even as Hyderabad did a commendable job with the ball, it was their batting which let them down in the match. Aaron Finch’s early dismissal did not help their cause. A lot depended on skipper Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner. Although both occupied the crease for a decent amount of time, neither could break the shackles that Rajasthan’s bowlers had placed on them. There was no momentum in their innings throughout, which is why they finished with a below par score. Rajasthan’s bowling was tight for the better part of 20 overs, and they deservedly finished on the winning side.
--By A Cricket Analyst