Hyderabad, April 22: Kane Williamson played a captain's innings to keep Sunrisers Hyderabad in the hunt but Chennai Super Kings eventually prevailed - winning their Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) clash by four runs at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here on Sunday (April 22).
Williamson's 84 off 51 went in vain as he did not receive much support from his top order. While Ambati Rayudu's blistering 79 off 37 took Chennai to 182/3 in 20 overs, Sunrisers ran out of firepower in the final three overs to lose the game. They also missed Shikhar Dhawan to an elbow problem.
Needing 19 off six balls, Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni handed the ball to Dwayne Bravo. The West Indian bowled a yorker first up and maintained a tight length to concede three off his first three. Rashid Khan (17 n.o off 4) struck one beyond the fine leg boundary and then edged one for a boundary. With a six required off the last ball, Bravo won the battle of wits with the young Afghani spinner to take his team home.
The momentum was with CSK after they posted 182/3 by overcoming a slow start. Defending that total, Deepak Chahar (3/15) ripped through the top order, claiming Ricky Bhui, Manish Pandey and Deepak Hooda in his three-over spell. His blistering first spell of 3-1-7-3 saw Hyderabad press the panic button. Bhui was caught at first slip off the fifth ball. Pandey, who struggled to handle an inswinger, had to walk back in the first ball of the third over, after knocking one to Dwayne Bravo at third man. Hooda played his shot early to Ravindra Jadeja at extra cover and was the only one among the three to get off the mark.
Yet, captain Kane Williamson hung on. SRH recovered to push the powerplay score to 40 but the early loss of wickets was indeed worrying. The Chahar threat disappeared by the eighth over itself and with none of the others being as effective, Sunrisers had just their captain and Yusuf Pathan to rely on.
Yusuf Pathan (45 off 27) had a back problem but still played a fighting innings, sticking on while Williamson played aggressively. Their fifth wicket stand of 79 runs took SRH closer - Yusuf's big-hitting prowess inspiring Williamson to take on the Chennai spinners.
An outstanding six came off Karn with the skipper covering the wicket and drafting it along the deep midwicket boundary. There were three big ones in that over - one over the cow corner and another a convention sweep as the 15th over reaped 22 runs for SRH.
And then, Chennai took the game by the scruff of the neck. Bravo provided the big breakthrough, flinging a slow one at Williamson, whose mishit drive was picked by Ravindra Jadeja in the deep. Yusuf too mistimed and struck the knuckleball by Shardul Thakur to Suresh Raina at extra cover. Bravo then picked up the ball in the final over to finish on a high under pressure.
Earlier, Rayudu (79 off 37), who walked in when CSK had just 32 on the board, made most of the slow nature of the wicket to lead the recovery for Chennai, who were put to bat. The Hyderabad-native Rayudu combined well with Suresh Raina (53 n.o off 43) and entertained the crowd with his lovely sixes and magnificent stroke-play. From being 54/2 in the first 10 overs, Chennai made 128 runs off the last 60 balls to set the 183-run target for SRH.
It was a great comeback by the Super Kings, who were struggling with the runs at one point. A good variation between the knuckleball and stock delivery saw CSK post the lowest powerplay score this season of 27. They lost Shane Watson early to Bhuvneshwar Kumar to a knuckleball. The Aussie's flick slipped to Deepak Hooda at short midwicket just after he had scored the first six of the innings in the 20th ball.
CSK batsmen somehow struggled to read the bowlers on the day. Raina was unable to make anything of Billy Stanlake's pacey bouncers and kept shuffling at the crease hoping to find the space for a big one. Rashid Khan claimed Faf du Plessis off the very first ball of his spell. The ball spun a bit more than usual and du Plessis lost his balance while trying to sweep the ball, only to be stumped by Wriddhiman Saha. Adamant to change his approach, Raina continued to shuffle against Siddarth Kaul as SRH piled the pressure on CSK to go big or go home.
Fortunes changed for Chennai after the strategic time out at the end of the ninth over. Bhuvneshwar's 10th over reaped 13 runs, including a six and boundary. Even after 10 overs, they were 54/2, the lowest score after 60 balls this IPL, which beat their own record of 56/2 against Mumbai Indians in the opener. But Raina hit two back-to-back sixes off Rashid over long-on and deep midwicket to lead the recovery.
CSK took their batting time out early too and returned all guns blazing. Rayudu was lucky with two edges going as far as the boundary off Stanlake, but he also played an exquisite six over the long-on boundary. He cut one earlier through the backward point to drain 19 runs from that 14th over. And suddenly, all that early dominance was nullified in three big overs. Between the 14th over and the 17th, Rayudu hit six boundaries and three sixes to push his strike rate up.
However, his innings came to a premature end largely because of his own recklessness. Kaul let the throw slip next to him, tempting Rayudu to go for a run when there was nothing to go for. Raina sent him back midway and Williamson completed the simplest of run outs to send Rayudu back.
Raina and MS Dhoni (25 n.o. off 12) saw off the rest of overs.