Jammu and Kashmir pacer Umran Malik took his career best IPL bowling figures of 5 for 25 but his efforts were still not enough to guide Sunrisers Hyderabad to a victory on Wednesday.
Malik completed his four overs by the 16th over by which time he had taken SRH to the doorstep of victory. However, poor bowling by T Natarajan (19th) and Marco Jansen (20th) allowed Gujarat Titans to register a thrilling last-ball victory, ending SRH's five-match winning streak in an exciting fashion.
Replying to SRH’s 195 for six, Titans emerged victorious by five wickets to regain their No. 1 position in the points table with seven wins from eight matches. The Titans heroes were once again Rashid Khan (31 not out, 11 balls, 4x6) and Rahul Tewatia (40 not out, 21 balls, 4x4, 2x6) with the bat, the right-left combination sharing 59 unseparated runs for the sixth wicket in the last four overs.
SRH were still winning after 18 overs when Titans needed 35 off the 12 deliveries. With Tewatia having already won matches from losing causes before, and Rashid also can hit sixes at will, Titans did not lose hope. Natarajan gave 13 in the 19th over and South Africa left-arm pacer Jansen could not defend 22 that were needed of the last over, giving four sixes, bowling wide and short, or full toss for the batsmen to swing their bats and clear the boundary at will. Khan hit the winning six when three were needed off the last ball, swinging Jansen over fine leg and signalling wild celebrations in the Titans camp.
Titans were ready to take on the imposing target with their wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha going after the SRH bowling. He smashed a 38-ball 68 (11x4, 1x6), making the most of the fielding restrictions. Titans raced to 59 for no loss in the first six overs, and steadily scored runs despite Malik’s deadly blows with express deliveries.
Sent in to bat – SRH were batting first for the first ever time in this tournament after only chasing totals in their first seven matches, winning the last five on the trot comfortably – it was a mixed start for the Kane Williamson-led side.
Opener Abhishek Sharma, after being beaten twice in the first over by Gujarat Titans’ most successful bowler, Md Shami, scored his second IPL fifty – 65 in 42 balls, 6x4, 3x6 – to take SRH to a strong position. Another half-century from Aiden Markram (56, 40b, 2x4, 3x6) and late flourish by local lad Shashank Singh, who smashed three successive sixes off the last three balls to race to unbeaten 25 off just six deliveries, took SRH to their highest total in this edition.
Put in to bat, SRH were off to a shaky start. India’s premier bowler Md Shami bowled a brilliant first over, twice beating the outside edge of left-handed Abhishek Sharma with identical deliveries but followed it up each time with five wides down the leg side.
However, Shami gave the first breakthrough with another beauty in his second over, beating Williamson through the gap and clean bowling him for five. Number three batsman Rahul Tripathi, who was dropped on one by Rashid Khan at point, though a tough chance, stepped out of the crease repeatedly in Shami’s third over, going aerial and picking a six over cover and two fours between point and cover, all of successive deliveries.
However, Shami had the last laugh, trapping Tripathi leg before wicket, first negated by umpire Navdeep Singh but Titans’ DRS confirmed the ball hitting the stumps. SRH, though had runs coming their way, lost two wickets in Power Play to reach a healthy 53 for two in six overs.
Barring those early first over jolts, Sharma was not troubled at all. He played shots freely on either side of the wicket, taking a particular liking to world’s premier leg-spinner Rashid Khan, three times going on one knee and picking the Afghanistan bowler for sixes over long-on and mid-wicket.
The 21-year-old left-hander from Punjab shared 96 in 61 balls with South African Aiden Markram for the third wicket before he swung and missed an Alzarri Joseph delivery to be bowled in the 16th over. Sharma destroyed Khan’s figures, the wrist spinner went wicketless and gave away 45 in his four overs. Very rarely has Khan conceded so many runs and gone wicketless, but he more than made up with his heroics with the bat in the run chase.Markram rotated the strike admirably with Sharma, notched up his third fifty in this edition before throwing it away with two overs remaining, lofting left-arm quick Yash Dayal loosely to long-off for 56 (40b, 2x4, 3x6).