Synopsis: Sunrisers Hyderabad played 48 dot balls after opting to bat first. Umesh Yadav returned with three wickets tomake up for an iffy Sunil Narine. Gambhir sealed the deal with 20th IPL fifty.
Forty-eight dot balls — equivalent to eight overs. That’s a ridiculous amount in a T20 game. And that’s where hosts Sunrisers Hyderabad lost the match after David Warner elected to bat first. But he struggled with his timing. This Hyderabad team is heavily dependent on their skipper to provide the spark upfront, and Warner had an off day today.
In fact, he would have been out second ball, after top-edging a pull off Morne Morkel to Piyush Chawla at square leg. Just that the big South African fast bowler had overstepped by a couple of inches. It didn’t prove too costly though, with Umesh Yadav fooling the left-hander with an off-cutter. By then, Shikhar Dhawan had already been dismissed for his customary single digit score. He charged down the track but couldn’t cope with the extra bounce from Morkel. Robin Uthappa completed a smart one-handed catch behind the stumps.
Eoin Morgan came in at No. 4, when resurrection was the need of the hour. After a poor World T20, the England limited-overs captain is slowly regaining his touch, but he hasn’t returned to his best yet, a half-century in this game notwithstanding. To his credit, Morgan dug in; unlike Moises Henriques and Deepak Hooda. The two swallowed 20 balls between them and departed with the strike-rates of 66.66 and 54.54 respectively. Only when Naman Ojha joined Morgan, Hyderabad looked to be in the game.
“Credit to Eoin Morgan and Naman Ojha, the way they fought and built a partnership which gathered a total, at least we could try and compete in the second part of the game,” Hyderabad coach Tom Moody later said.
Their 67-run fifth wicket partnership had set the platform for a late charge. But in the 18th over, Andre Russell and Chawla combined well at the edge of the boundary to complete a spectacular catch and remove Ojha. Morgan returned seven deliveries later, holing out to Shakib Al Hasan at wide long-on off Umesh. Hyderabad ended their innings with a whimper. They hit only five sixes, but the inexplicable number of dot balls severely dented their progress. They seemed to have become oblivious to rotating the strike.
The fast bowler had been relatively expensive in Kolkata’s opening game against Delhi Daredevils, conceding 21 runs in three overs without success. He had to make way for left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav against Mumbai Indians. Back in the mix today, Umesh responded magnificently, claiming 3/28 in four overs. He bowled fast and straight and displayed his variations. Warner was snapped up with a slower delivery. A fast inswinger caught Henriques plumb in front, while a back of a length delivery didn’t allow Morgan to free his arms. Umesh also unleashed a couple of excellent yorkers at the death. He is a very fine operator on his day. Consistency, however, has never been his forte.
After being hammered in the last game, Russell, too, was miserly today. The figures of 1/19 in four overs attested a strong comeback. Morkel for John Hastings proved to be a positive addition as well.
Iffy Sunil Narine
The Trinidadian iffy offie had to be the interesting part — returning to the fold with a remodelled action and playing his first competitive match since November last year. Narine replaced Brad Hogg, who was down with a Delhi belly. Narine was called to action in the ninth over and was perhaps given a little too much respect initially before Morgan and Ojha took a couple of fours and a six in his final two overs. Narine bowled slower through the air, his straighters lacked fizz and he hardly attempted a doosra. It’s never easy with a changed action, especially after such a long layoff. Narine needs time to get into the groove.
Gambhir seals the deal
Kolkata openers, Gambhir and Uthappa, are always comfortable against mid-range totals that allow them to settle down before playing big shots. Hyderabad’s bowling was ordinary and the duo batted untroubled, waiting for loose balls. It became a cruise after a 92-run opening stand. Uthappa was out leg before on 38, but the skipper remained unbeaten on 90 off 60 deliveries to reclaim the Orange Cap (192 runs, three matches). Gambhir looked to be in fine fettle. Three straight fours off leggie Karn Sharma reminded the fans of his halcyon days. Once again, Hyderabad held back Mustafizur Rahman for the latter half of the innings. The left-arm seamer flattened Russell and rattled the stumps. But that was Hyderabad’s tenuous link to excitement, bowling-wise.
Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 142/7 in 20 overs (Eoin Morgan 51 (43), Naman Ojha 37 (28); Umesh Yadav 3/28, Morne Morkel 2/35) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 146/2 in 18.2 overs (Robin Uthappa 38 (34), Gautam Gambhir 90* (60); A Ashish Reddy 1/14) by 8 wickets.