Chasing 211 to win at an asking rate of 10.55 an over was asking for too much. Sunrisers Hyderabad found it the hard way against Rajasthan Royals at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium’s pitch in Pune that had a tinge of grass that actually did not help the new-ball bowlers.
The lower-order hitting by Washington Sundar (40, 14b, 5x4, 2x6) and top-order Aiden Markram’s unbeaten 57 (41b, 5x4, 2x6) only reduced the margin of SRH defeat and ensured that RR did not post their biggest victory by margin of runs, which stayed at 105 runs over Delhi Daredevils in 2008. SRH finished with 149 for 7 to give RR a 61-run victory, which broke the trend of teams chasing winning the matches in this edition.
Hoping to chase whatever RR posted, which was 210 for six at the end of the first half of the match, SRH were never in the hunt, thanks to a mind-boggling bowling in the Power Play by New Zealand great Trent Boult and India’s rising star in the ODIs, Prasidh Krishna from Karnataka.
The Boult-Krishna duo were as miserly as one could expect, the Kiwi left-arm medium-pacer showing figures of 3-1-8-1 and the lanky Indian right-armer an even better 3-1-2-2 as SRH managed only 14 and lost three wickets in their first six overs, including their dependable captain Kane Williamson, who is returning to action after being out to treat his recurring elbow injury.
Faced with such a tall asking rate, SRH batsmen had to go for big shots and ended up losing one wicket too many. SRH batsmen’s march to the middle and back to the pavilion were in stark contrast to the RR batsmen, who only dealt in boundaries to anything that was to be hit.
Having been sent in to bat by SRH skipper Williamson, RR were off to a blazing start. Their left-right opening combination of Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal took the first two overs sent by Bhuvneshwa Kumar and West Indies’ Romario Shepherd to assess the pitch.
With the green patches on the surface only giving false hopes for the bowlers, Jaiswal and Buttler went about playing their shots to post the fastest team fifty in this edition, 4.4 overs. The Buttler-Jaiswal opening partnership was worth 58, the two being separated in the first ball after the field was allowed to be spread, giving the Guyanese 27-year-old right-arm pacer Shepherd his maiden IPL wicket to a catch in the deep held by Aiden Markram of South Africa.
But, the Royals carnage continued in the form of their captain Sanju Samson, who hit cleanly and into the stands almost at will. Initially taking a majority of the strike, he was happy to be a silent spectator when left-hander Devdutt Padikkal joined him in the middle at the fall of Buttler in the ninth over.
Samson and Padikkal shared 73 runs for the third wicket in just 6.5 overs. Padikkal took to batting at No. 4 like a duck takes to water. Until Tuesday, Padikkal has played all his 29 IPL matches in the last two seasons for Royal Challengers Bangalore as an opener. Batting outside that customary position for the first time, Padikkal was not at all in any discomfort, the SRH bowlers, who were not allowed to get into a rhythm at any stage, were helpless on the day.
As if the Samson-Padikkal onslaught was not enough, West Indies’ left-hander Shimron Hetmeyer helped himself to a 13-ball 32 (2x4, 3x6) to take RR to their 10th highest total in IPL history.