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IPL 2015 RR vs SRH: Royals Make It Four Out Of Four After Tense Chase

By on April 17, 2015

Rajasthan Royals 131 for 4 (Rahane 62, Bopara 2-18) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 127 for 5 (Kulkarni 2-9, Tambe 2-21) by six wickets…

Late drama turned a one-sided canter into a last-ball finish, but Rajasthan Royals, the team that had dominated 95% of the contest, won in the end and preserved their perfect record for the season.

Two Mumbai bowlers set it up for Royals: Dhawal Kulkarni struck twice with the new ball to peg Sunrisers back early, and Pravin Tambe removed both Naman Ojha and Eoin Morgan after they had staged a recovery of sorts with a 52-run fourth-wicket partnership. The Sunrisers innings didn’t take off at all after that, and a target of 128 should never have tested Royals’ batting line-up.

But somehow, it did. For 18 overs, Royals made serene progress. And then, with 12 to get from 12 balls, the nerves set in. The half-centurion Ajinkya Rahane was bowled slogging at Trent Boult when Royals needed 10 off 9. The first four balls of Praveen Kumar’s final over produced two inch-perfect yorkers, a near run-out, and a leg bye.

With two to get from two balls, Stuart Binny drove Praveen to long-off to level the scores. On strike came James Faulkner, among the best finishers in the game.

The keeper came up, the field came in to save the single. Looking for another yorker, Praveen sent down a low full-toss. Faulkner, making himself room, carved it away to the cover point boundary.

IPL 2015 RR vs SRH: Ajinkya Rahane

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

Both Rahane and Sanju Samson played and missed against the new ball, and both survived close calls – Trent Boult seemed to trap Rahane plumb in front with a perfect left-armer’s inswinger, only for the umpire to rule it not out, and Ashish Reddy dropped a tough chance off Samson when he miscued a pull off Praveen Kumar – but they kept chipping away at the target in a first-wicket partnership of 64.

Steven Smith went early, for once, and Ravi Bopara picked up two wickets in a constricting spell of medium-paced cutters, but Rahane changed gears at just the right time for Royals.

Rahane sent a square cut off Bopara screaming away to the right of third man, and charged him in his next over to chip him wristily to the wide long-on boundary. A pulled four off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 18th over took him to 59, and left Royals 15 to get from 15 balls with seven wickets in hand. It should have been a stroll, but such is the nature of Twenty20 that they nearly lost it from there.

The pitch in Visakhapatnam was on the slow side, and there was plenty of grip on offer for anyone who bowled spin or medium-paced cutters. Tambe’s wicket of Ojha illustrated this perfectly. After drifting into a line just outside leg stump, a quickish legbreak spun past the outside edge and crashed into middle stump.

Tambe nearly had Morgan stumped off a googly in his next over, but Samson didn’t have to fret over his muffed effort behind the stumps for too long. Picking the wrong length to a reverse-sweep, Morgan was lbw next ball, a quicker, flatter googly from Tambe hitting his pad almost on the half-volley.

With two set batsmen dismissed, Sunrisers only managed a modest amount of acceleration towards the end of their innings, with Ravi Bopara and Ashish Reddy biffing 31 off the last 21 balls.

Having been put in to bat, Sunrisers had a mixed start from their openers. Shikhar Dhawan survived a nervy first over against Tim Southee’s swing, and saw an outside edge fall just short of Smith at slip, and soon edged Kulkarni behind to fall for 10.

David Warner, though, seemed to be carrying on from where he had left off against Royal Challengers Bangalore. He smacked three fours off Chris Morris off the first four balls he faced, and carved Southee for a big six over point.

Just when he looked like he might hurt Royals with a big innings, he was run out going for a misjudged single. Kulkarni then jagged one back to trap the crease-bound KL Rahul, and Sunrisers were 35 for 3, without too much batting depth to call upon.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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