One of the positive aspects of the Indian Premier League is that just when you think that a side is down and out of the tournament or a match, it mounts an astonishing comeback. When the Sunrisers Hyderabad met the Rajasthan Royals at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera in Ahmedabad they were not only taking on one of the best sides of the tournament they were also fighting their woeful record of late. Even going into the second half of the match not many would have given them a chance with the way they batted. So, in many ways this victory by 32 runs was a significant one for the beleaguered team as it restored some of their lost self belief and perhaps also keeps them in the hunt for a place in the play-offs provided they are able to win the remainder of their games.
Team composition: For this particular game both sides made a brace of changes each. Hyderabad left out Darren Sammy and Ishant Sharma and brought in Amit Mishra and Moises Henriques, who played his first match in this year’s IPL. Rajasthan left out Tim Southee and Rahul Tewatia and brought back Dhawal Kulkarni and Kane Richardson.
Batting: Royals won the toss and put Sunrisers in, who struggled to reach a total of 134 for 9 wickets in their allotted 20 overs. Shikhar Dhawan was the highest scorer with 33 from 20 balls and down the order Irfan Pathan (21 from 21) tried his best to lend the innings some respectability.
Chasing an eminently gettable total the Royals folded up for 102 in 19.5 overs. Steven Smith was the highest scorer with 22 from 33 balls. The fact that none of the main batsmen or even the lower order allrounders was able to play an innings of substance meant that Royals suffered a rather shocking defeat in the end by their high standards.
Bowling: Slow medium pacer Rajat Bhatia was the best bowler for RR with 3 for 23 in his quota of overs. Shane Watson also performed well picking up a hat trick and finishing with 3 for 13 in 2 overs. Pravin Tambe was exceptional as usual with 1 for 21 in 4 overs. James Faulkner (none for 20) and Kane Richardson (none for 28) were economical and this ensured that SRH were restricted from getting to a huge total.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been performing the Mohit Sharma role for SRH did it once again in this match with 4 for 14 and received excellent support from his opening partner Dale Steyn, who claimed 2 for 31. Karn Sharma picked 1 for 20 and Henriques got 1 for 11 in 2 overs. Irfan bowled 1.5 overs for just 8 runs and took the last wicket of Pravin Tambe. Mishra also bowled with exceptional economy conceding just 13 runs from 4 overs but did not take any wicket.
Where do the teams go from here?
Sunrisers Hyderabad have finally found a combination that works for them and given the precarious situation that they are in they would do well to stick to this one barring injuries or loss of form. They should also get David Warner back to the top order for sure. He should open with Aaron Finch because that is what they do for the Australian team in short form cricket. Dhawan could come in at 3 and then play the role of a sheet anchor. This will make the team more effective.
This defeat would have shown Rajasthan Royals a couple of things. First, they need to stop tinkering with a set and successful combination without a proper reason as such. They need to ensure that they are there in the playoffs and perhaps then they will be in a position to give game time to their players who need that. Second, they should think of bringing back Brad Hodge in the team. His experience and nous are missing from the team at the moment and they shall need it to make sure that they progress to the next stage.