Left-arm spinners set up SRH’s final date with KKR

Led by the left-arm spin duo of Abhishek Sharma and Shahbaz Ahmed, Sunrisers Hyderabad defended their total of 175 for 9, beating Rajasthan Royals by 36 runs in Chennai on Friday. With this win, they ended Royals’ campaign in IPL 2024 and set up a final date with Kolkata Knight Riders.

The difference: The middle overs

The middle period is when both teams lost momentum in their innings, the dent that ensured that they couldn’t power up as well as they would’ve liked in the death overs, yet one team was hurt more than the other – and in contrasting fashion. While SRH batters were challenged by the RR pacers digging the ball at short of length and taking the pace off, RR batters struggled to cope with the grip and turn of the SRH spinners. Chasing what was a modest target, Royals lost not only five wickets in the middle overs, but also had their boundaries dry up and scored at less than run-a-ball, which severely hampered their run chase and eventually proved to be a major factor in their defeat..

Run Rate7.115.64

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Powerplay: Boult strikes overshadow Tripathi blitz

SRH: 68/3 (RR: 11:33; 8x4s, 3x6s)

Another fine spell by Trent Boult in the powerplay headlined the initial phase of the competition. The left-arm pacer dismissed Abhishek in the first over, and then had Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram caught at short third by Yuzvendra Chahal in the third. Royals fielders were top-notch, especially Chahal who had a busy day with the ball flying past him, over him and to him on several occasions. In between those dismissals, Tripathi took the attack to Boult and R Ashwin, cleverly using his wide array of strokes, blazing away to a 15-ball 37 before looking to play an upper-cut at a delivery much above his head. Travis Head, coming into the contest at the back of two ducks, was tentative early on, playing only eight deliveries in the first five overs.

Middle overs: Sandeep, Avesh plug the runs

SRH: 64/3 (RR: 7:11; 1x4s, 4x6s)

Even as Head attempted to breakfree once Boult was out of operation, he didn’t find as much success as he would’ve liked. The pacers – Sandeep Sharma and Avesh Khan – bowled length deliveries which all the batters struggled to put away, especially the slower variations. Head opened the face of the bat and became the third batter to be caught at short fine, while Avesh dismissed Nitish Reddy and Abdul Samad in successive deliveries in the 14th over. Heinrich Klaasen, who had walked out to bat in the powerplay, couldn’t find an acceleration in the middle overs as well, but did well to see himself through to the death while wickets kept tumbling from the other end.

Death overs: Sandeep, Avesh plug the runs

SRH: 43/3 (RR: 8:60; 2x4s, 2x6s)

Barring a couple of sixes in the 17th and 18th over, and some smart running between the wickets, which promised an acceleration in the death overs, SRH failed to make amends in the death overs. However, with boundaries not easy to come by, Klaasen ensured that there were lot of twos picked up in the empty pockets on the field, which proved vital in the end. Sandeep Sharma returned for his final spell and knocked over Klaasen’s stumps with a yorker. Shahbaz Ahmed, who came in as an Impact Substitute, failed to do enough to add muscle in the late overs as SRH were restricted to a below-par total.

Rajasthan Royals

Powerplay: Yashasvi breaks free after a slow start

RR: 51/1 (RR: 8:50; 6x4s, 2x6s)

Pat Cummins and Bhuvneshwar Kumar ensured that Rajasthan Royals didn’t blaze away to a strong start, testing the openers with a flurry of length and short of length deliveries. In the process, Cummins even had Tom Kohler-Cadmore mistiming a shot to cover point. Having managed only 32 runs in five overs, Jaiswal broke free in the last over of the powerplay, cracking three boundaries and a six off Bhuvneshwar to compensate for the slow start.

Middle overs: Spinners put the breaks

RR: 51/5 (RR: 5:64; 3x4s, 2x6s)

The fifth bowler’s quota, which was supposed to be SRH’s weaklink in the contest, turned out out to be its strength that broke the back of RR’s run chase. With dew not setting in the outfield and the playing surface becoming drier, there was turn and grip on offer for the finger spinners. Abhishek and Shahbaz ensured they took full advantage of the conditions. The duo combined to bag five wickets from their eight-over spell, conceding at less than run-a-ball. Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag were caught after they mistimed their slogs, while Ashwin was caught behind and Hetmyer was cleaned up.

Death overs: Jurel fights it out in vain

RR: 37/1 (RR: 7:40; 4x4s, 1x6s)

SRH pacers backed up the work of their spinners well, by following the blueprint that had brought success to the Royals pacers earlier in the day – take off the pace and dig the ball at length. Dhruv Jurel put up a fight but with Rovman Powell failing to provide the support from the other end and a fragile lower order to accompany, his solo effort – an unbeaten 35-ball 56 – was too little for Royals as the required rate kept creeping beyond their reach.

Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 175/9 in 20 overs (Heinrich Klaasen 50, Rahul Tripathi 37; Avesh Khan 3-27, Trent Boult 3-45) beat Rajasthan Royals 139/7 in 20 overs (Dhruv Jurel 56*, Yashasvi Jaiswal 42; Shahbaz Ahmed 3-23, Abhishek Sharma 2-24) by 36 runs

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