Sunrisers break RCB's heart

Sunrisers break RCB's heart

In-form hosts eke out five-run win to shut the doors on Virat Kohli's men

THRILLED: Sunrisers Hyderabad players celebrate after clinching a nervy five-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Hyderabad on Monday. PTI

From 2009 IPL final in South Africa, teams from Hyderabad have always spoiled Royal Challengers Bangalore’s party. They have either bested RCB in summit clashes or have qualified for the last four at their expense.

In a must-win situation to make the play-offs of this edition’s Indian Premier League, RCB had done everything right for three-fourth of their game before Sunrisers Hyderabad fought back to break their hearts here at the RGIC Stadium on Monday night. Having restricted SRH to a modest 146 all out, RCB had raced to 60 for one in seven overs, looking overwhelming favourites to win at that stage. However, with the field spread and ball softening up, stroke-making became difficult on a sluggish pitch and all the visitors could manage was 141 for six to succumb to a five-run defeat.

Colin de Grandhomme had brought the match alive, taking 14 runs off 17th over from Rashid Khan. With 25 needed from last three, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddarth Kaul bowled brilliant death overs to deny de Grandhomme and Mandeep Singh any big shots. Bhuvneshwar was especially brilliant in his last two overs, conceding just 12 runs in what turned out to be a tense chase. The seventh defeat in 10 matches meant that RCB’s hopes of play-offs were over while SRH, with 16 points from 10 matches, all but sealed their place in the last four.      

Opening the innings, Manan Vohra got out in the eighth over having played just 10 balls. With Kohli (39, 30b, 5x4, 1x6), reprieved on 33, and AB de Villiers in the middle, it was still RCB’s game to lose which they did in spectacular fashion.

RCB bowlers justified their skipper’s decision to bowl first on a sluggish surface, maintaining a tight leash over SRH batsmen. Barring when a sublime Kane Williamson (56, 39b, 5x4, 2x6) made a mockery of the slow nature of the surface with another innings of class and control, SRH batsmen struggled to find momentum. SRH received a big blow in just their second over with Tim Southee cleaning up opener Alex Hales with a delivery that nipped back just enough to beat his bat. With almost all RCB bowlers giving little away, Shikhar Dhawan and Williamson found it hard to accelerate the scoring rate. While they restricted SRH to just 38/2 in the power play conceding just four fours, no boundary was conceded between over numbers 4.3 and 9.2.

At 48 for three in the ninth over, Sunrisers needed not only stem the fall of wickets but get some quick runs as well. With Shakib holding one end up, Williamson shifted gears to collect some valuable runs during the most productive stand of the innings.

The Kiwi was particularly severe on Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, taking them to the pickets with alarming regularity. He dominated the 64-run stand (47b) with Shakib before Umesh earned some redemption by dismissing the right-hander, who holed out in the deep. It was a massive blow to SRH at a crucial juncture. Yusuf Pathan and Shakib did threaten to take the total to around 160 but RCB kept nipping away a wicket after another to restrict the hosts to a below par score. But then SRH have successfully defended even lower totals this season and given RCB’s inconsistent batting, it was always going to be an uphill task for them.