Rashid Khan’s all-round heroics paved the way for Sunrisers Hyderabad to book a spot in the Indian Premier League 2018 final where they’ll take on Chennai Super Kings.
Rashid’s destructive 10-ball 34 at the backend made up for failures of more established batsmen to help the visitors rake up 174 for 7 against Kolkata Knight Riders, and then his three wickets in the middle-overs ensured Hyderabad defended the total by 13 runs in Kolkata on Friday (May 25).
In chase of 175, Kolkata had gotten off to the ideal start. Sunil Narine put on a display of power-hitting once again, smashing a 13-ball 26, which included four consecutive boundaries off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Strangely, Hyderabad restrained from bowling short to him, although he’s been uncomfortable against that length. He did eventually hole out to mid-off off a Siddarth Kaul knuckle ball, but only after leaving a mark.
In another quirky decision, Kane Williamson didn’t bring on spin early to exploit Chris Lynn’s weakness. The opener feasted on the pace offered and bolted Kolkata to 68 for 1 in the Power Play, but the ploy of holding back the spinners was soon to pay off.
Lynn went for a sweep the moment Rashid was brought on and he feathered an edge to Wriddhiman Saha, who dropped it. Hyderabad reviewed for leg-before, but replays showed Lynn had actually gloved it, but Saha wasn’t able to hold on to it.
Nitish Rana was run out for a 16-ball 22 when he attempted a second run after nudging the ball to deep mid-wicket even though he slipped at the non-striker’s end. That unfortunate wicket marked the beginning of a very quick end for the home side.
Rashid tore through the middle-order, claiming the scalps of Robin Uthappa, Lynn and Andre Rusell, while Shakib chipped in with the key wicket of Dinesh Karthik.
Uthappa never looked in form during his eight-ball stay which yielded two runs and lost his stump when he tried to reverse sweep. Karthik was done in by one that kept straighter to fall for a six-ball eight, while Lynn perished on 48 off 31 balls when he tried to sweep a googly.
Russell had received a reprieve off Shakib with Saha putting down a chance created off an inside edge, but fell the next over trying to cut Rashid, only to get caught at slip for a seven-ball three. The flurry of wickets reduced Kolkata from 87 for 1 to 118 for 6.
Shubman Gill took things into the final over. With 19 off six required, Williamson threw the ball to Brathwaite despite memories of his match-changing 20-run over in the first qualifier against Chennai still fresh. He got sliced for a four over point first ball, but Mavi and Gill holed out to deep mid-wicket off successive deliveries, the latter falling for a valiant 20-ball 30.
Hyderabad had enjoyed a pretty decent start to their innings with Shikhar Dhawan scoring freely. Wriddhiman Saha looked uncomfortable at the start but started settling down and the duo put on 56 runs in the first seven overs.
But Kuldeep Yadav, who had picked up four wickets in the previous games, removed not only Dhawan for a 24-ball 34, but also Kane Williamson (3 off 3) in the eighth over of the innings and things looked grim for Hyderabad with their two major run-scorers back in the hut.
Things only became worse for Hyderabad. Saha was just starting to time the ball sweetly, but he set off for a disastrous run under the impression that the ball had gone past the keeper, and Dinesh Karthik, who had earlier put Saha down, did well to collect the ball and have him stumped off Piyush Chawla for a 27-ball 35. There was an element of doubt as to whether the ball had slipped out of Karthik’s gloves before he broke the stumps, but luck was with home side. Hyderabad had slipped to 84 for 3.
Lady luck smiled on Kolkata again when Shakib Al Hasan was run out at the non-striker’s end with Kuldeep getting a hand on Deepak Hooda’s firm drive, which went on to crash into the stumps. Shakib was in no position to get his bat in and had to depart for an enterprising 24-ball 28.
Brathwaite, who scored a fantastic 29-ball 43 in the previous game, sent a full toss by Prasidh soaring over deep mid-wicket. But a spot of mindless running coupled with outstanding fielding from Nitish Rana at third man had him run out the next ball.
Rashid played a series of extraordinary shots to get his team closer to a par total, including a flick off his pads over fine leg. He could have been dismissed without causing much damage when Chawla botched a chance to catch him at deep extra cover off Mavi, coming in far too much when he could have easily caught it if he remained deeper. Rashid finished with one soaring hit over long on to give his side a defendable score.
The final will be played on Sunday in Mumbai. Hyderabad will be aware that they have lost thrice to Chennai this season, but they’ll save the worries for later. Tonight they can celebrate.