Rising Pune Supergiants cruised to 34-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday night, after their bowlers, led by Ashok Dinda, had restricted SRH to a lowly total of 118 on a rain-soaked night in Hyderabad. The win, via DLS, ended Rising Pune Supergiants' 4-match losing streak in the IPL.
Chasing a modest total of 119, Pune’s innings got off to the worst possible start. Ajinkya Rahane, who came into this match on the back of a brilliant half-century against KKR, found Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s swing too much to deal with. After struggling through the first four balls, he finally surrendered his wicket on a delivery that had the slightest of width. Slashing hard, Rahane found Morgan at point to give SRH an early spring in their steps.
However, that early sting in the chase did not affect Pune too much as Faf du Plessis and Steve Smith built the innings with patience, scoring almost one boundary every over till Mustafizur came into the attack in the fourth. The Bangladesh bowler tested Smith with some seam movement initially, before Smith whacked the left arm pacer to the fence, first with a deft flick and then with a cheeky dab past the hapless keeper. The script repeated when “The Fizz” returned to bowl in the sixth over, with Smith dishing out the same treatment again as Mustafizur conceded 21 runs in his first 2 overs. To put that into context - he had conceded just 9 runs in 4 overs against KXIP on Saturday.
Faf joined the party in the seventh over. The South African first swept Bipul Sharma to the fence, before hoisting the spinner’s short ball for a maximum. 17 runs came off that over as Pune started to cruise towards their target. The flow of runs continued unchecked with Faf taking on Henriques and muscling him for a six. But the all-rounder had the last laugh in the contest, sending back Faf with a ball that just bounced a tad extra.
Skipper Dhoni came out and looked to finish the innings in a hurry, hitting a boundary off the very first ball. But his attempt to finish things off in a jiffy was cut short by Ashish Nehra who plucked his international captain for 5. However, Pune were firmly in command at 94/3 when it started to drizzle once again at the end of the 11th over. Eventually, the match was decided on the Duckworth Lewis method, and Pune won the game by 34 runs with the par-score being 60 at that point in the game.
Earlier, MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to field under a heavily clouded sky in Hyderabad. Those clouds started to pour soon after the toss and the match got delayed by an hour. The conditions were always going to assist the bowlers and Ashok Dinda, who had come in for Ankit Sharma, benefited from the overcast conditions straight away. The pacer moved the ball in the first three deliveries, before bowling a flat and wide delivery outside off, only for Warner to deposit the ball right into Rahane’s hands at backward point. Dinda imitated Cristiano Ronaldo's celebration as the Hyderabad crowd turned mute. This was Warner’s first duck in 29 T20 innings. Clearly the one hour wait didn’t turn out to be worth it.
Mitchell Marsh shared the new ball with Dinda and got equal purchase from the conditions, swinging the ball delightfully and repaying Dhoni’s faith in recalling him back to the eleven to replace Albie Morkel. The Australian conceded only 3 runs and built further pressure on the Hyderabad batting.
Runs were so hard to come by that the first boundary off the bat came on the 22nd delivery off the innings after Marsh strayed his line and Aditya Tare, who till then had faced 10 deliveries to score 2, used his wrists to send the ball to the midwicket fence. But with only 19 runs on the board after 4 overs, patience started to evaporate among the SRH batsmen. So when Dinda came in for the second time in the 5th over of the innings, Dhawan attempted a lunging hopeful drive. The ball found the inside edge of his bat and raced down to the square leg boundary.
Runs had started to come, but the bowlers still looked in charge. And Dinda profited when the scoreboard pressure finally took its toll on Tare. Attempting a pull, he only managed to get a top edge and Thisara grabbed a catch after the ball stayed in the air forever. SRH were crumbling, and how. Eoin Morgan followed Tare within 2 balls of arriving at the crease, after a seaming delivery found the outside edge off his bat. The scoreboard read 27/3 at the end of the powerplay.
If it wasn’t already clear which side was on top, Ashwin made sure there were no doubts left when he sent back Deepak Hooda. Hooda, who had batted for 8 balls and scored a solo run, tried to welcome Ashwin to the bowling crease with a reverse sweep. The madness was rewarded with a long walk to the pavilion, as Dhoni grabbed the miscue. Ashwin suddenly looked like the champion bowler he was, and tightened Pune’s grip on SRH to choke them further. Shikhar Dhawan continued to combat on one end, but his persistence did not rub off on any of his batting partners.
Moises Henriques was the next to come and go, and SRH were down in the dumps at 32/5. Dhawan, with the help of Naman Ojha, tried to rebuild the innings from the scratch, but Hyderabad only had 39 on the board after 10 overs, the lowest of the season so far.
After being watchful and displaying some sensible batting, the Dhawan-Ojha pair finally decided to take flight against Rajat Bhatia in the 15th over, milking 13 runs off him - the highest scoring over of the innings till then, by some margin. The pair continued to swim against the tide, despite the batting conditions showing no signs of improvement. Ojha perished in the 17th over but Dhawan, who had anchored the innings from ball 1, fittingly brought his 50 in the 18th over. Some late blows by Bhuvaneswar Kumar and Dhawan saw the Hyderabad-based side cross the 100 mark, something that didn’t seem very probable till the 15th over.
Who do you think will come on top tonight?