After the last game, Sunrisers Hyderabad gave the impression that they had found a middle order. But their spectacular collapse against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday while chasing a modest target showed that they are still heavily dependent on their openers to take them home.
When Sunrisers Hyderabad lost David Warner and Jonny Bairstow to the spinners – on a track where the ball gripped and spun – with the score on 58 for 2 in the eight over of the 127-run chase, the match was trickily poised. But at 100 for 3 in 16 overs, they seemed in control. However, they contrived to crash out spectacularly, losing seven wickets for 14 runs. Kings XI Punjab pounced to clinch their fourth win in a row to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
It wasn’t just spinners Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi who strangled the Sunrisers batsmen, but even medium pacers Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh got into the act. Manish Pandey dropped anchor and Vijay Shankar showed more impetus to nearly seize the advantage, but both fell to trigger a stunning collapse. Pandey fell on the first ball of the 17th over with the total on 100, and Shankar fell off the fifth ball of the 18th over, with the team 17 runs adrift of the target. Both Jordan and Singh – the spinners and Mohammed Shami had been bowled out – hit back with their line-and-length bowling to shove Warner’s men to a defeat.
Rashid bewilders Punjab
“Haahaa hahaha Rasheeeed!” Bairstow, the wicketkeeper, had a nearly-manic laughter even as he clapped in admiration, threw up his head to look at the skies and chanted out Rashid Khan’s name in hypnotic ecstasy. As if he were a Qawwali singer on a moonlit desert night. That fan-boy reaction was befitting as Khan had conjured out KL Rahul with a googly. It was a spinner’s knockout punch – Rahul had no clue about the ball’s destination, his bat shaped up for a leg-break as it drove towards mid-off, but the loopy delivery sneaked through to trigger the euphoric appreciation in Bairstow.
It wasn’t a surprise, either. “Rashid has always got the edge over me – he has my number a little bit,” Rahul had said last year.
There are two familiar elements in Khan’s art. The deceptive action where even the leg-break can be released off the back of the hand like a googly, and the whirring quick speed. Rahul has been out a few times to Khan, from both the googly and the leg-break. This time, it was the wrong’un.
Kings didn’t have their way with the other bowlers either, and a score of 126/7 seemed grossly inadequate at the halfway stage and much of the chase. But the Sunrisers batsmen failed to see it through.
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