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Sunrisers Hyderabad stay alive in playoff race with facile win over Rajasthan Royals

Manish Pandey orchestrates the perfect chase for SRH after Rashid Khan and Vijay Shankar induce choke.

Written by Sandip G | Updated: October 23, 2020 7:58:41 am
iplManish Pandey stamped his match-winning capabilities with a 47-ball 83. (Twitter/IPL)

Manish Pandey demonstrated that there is more to Sunrisers Hyderabad batting than the overseas big guns, thus keeping their slim knockout prospects burning. Chasing 155 against Rajasthan Royals, they lost David Warner and Jonny Bairstow upfront, but Pandey weathered the Jofra Archer-storm and smothered the rest to carve an eight-wicket victory. Vijay Shankar played the accomplice role to perfection, crunching a half-century himself.

Pandey, the chase master

Throughout the series, Pandey has looked fluent but without making it count. On Thursday though, he stamped his match-winning capabilities with a 47-ball 83, that steered Sunrisers to a facile victory.

It’s the context that multiplies the value of the knock. Sunrisers were languishing at seventh spot on the points table, making a last-gasp effort to qualify for the playoffs. Pandey walked into the middle in the first over to face a tails-up Archer. The England tearaway soon inflicted another blow —bursting through the defences of Jonny Bairstow. At 16/2, their season was slipping down the slope.

But Pandey didn’t shrink. He launched a calculated assault —neutering Archer with caution and tearing young Kartik Tyagi apart. He struck a brace of boundaries through the offside in his first over, before thumping him for two sixes and a boundary in his next.

In the end, he turned a shaky start into a stroll with ample help from Shankar, with whom he put on 140 runs. It was the kind of authoritative knock that makes one wonder why his international career hasn’t quite soared.

A Royal choke

Rashid Khan is the master of middle-overs choke. His very sight is enough for batsmen, even the most daring ones, to dig a trench at the crease and hide inside it. It’s the reason the Afghan has bled only 5.47 runs per over in this edition. It’s not that he bowls incredibly stifling lines and lengths, but the fear of deception he has infused into them.

Rashid conceded only 20 runs in his four over. But it was not him alone that put the brakes on Royals after a reasonably brisk start. He had an unseemly sidekick in Shankar. He is not quite reputed for thrift, as his career economy rate of 8.60 suggests. But in the last few games for Sunrisers, he has proved incredibly difficult to hit. Part of his revival is due to a concerted effort to bowl back-of-length rather than fuller. Whereas in the past he strove to bowl every delivery as fast as he could, here he was deliberately bowling within himself, not providing batsmen the pace to manoeuvre. The combined figures of Rashid and Shankar in the middle overs read 7-0-35-1.

As a consequence, the Royals decided to target Jason Holder. Sanju Samson pulled him for a six but feathered an edge back onto his stumps the next ball. And in the next over, Rashid came back to devour a listless Ben Stokes. His arrival was supposed to fuel Royals’ knockout pursuits. On the contrary, he has induced imbalance in the batting order. Jos Buttler was moved down to No 4 which pushed Steve Smith to five and Rahul Tewatia to seven.

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