Low totals make tricky targets. The Sunrisers Hyderabad realised that on Friday, having made heavy weather of the chase against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. A score of 131 in IPL 2020 is certainly below par, but Virat Kohli’s side fought well enough to turn it into a tight finish.
Tight finish, it was. But it never transformed into a thriller. It was not allowed to. And that required the steady hands of two internationals. New Zealander Kane Williamson and West Indian Jason Holder, both captains of national sides, have abundant experience in facing stiff challenges. And that helped Hyderabad win the eliminator in Abu Dhabi.
Hyderabad ran into early trouble losing two wickets in the powerplay, and Bangalore fancied their chances when they had the rivals on the mat at 67/4. That’s when Holder joined Williamson in the middle. A sensible partnership, shorn of frills and thrills, took Hyderabad to Qualifier 2.
A good partnership, that’s what Bangalore lacked. They too ran into trouble when Holder struck twin blows early and was rescued by AB de Villiers and Aaron Finch. But when De Villiers was set to launch in the slog overs, Natarajan bowled him with one of the balls of the tournament. A near-perfect yorker that homed in on the middle stump.
Why Hyderabad deserved to win
Did Hyderabad deserve to win? Yes, of course. After all, they dug themselves out a hole. That was the difference. Bangalore too were in a similar situation but were unable to surmount that. And Hyderabad did. So, they deserve to go through.
For Bangalore, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Kohli had said at the outset that this could be Bangalore’s tournament. But it was not to be. They played some excellent cricket but were undermined by some poor displays later in the season. They can take heart from some good wins. Moreover, they sorted out one of their perennial problems: the run-leak in the slog overs. The promise of Devdutt Padikall and the rediscovery of Mohammed Siraj are huge positives.
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Skipper David Warner has worries ahead of Sunday’s qualifier. Hyderabad’s early batting collapse does not bode well when they have to face Delhi’s pace duo of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada and the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin. They have to get Wriddhiman Saha back, but will he have healed?
If Hyderabad play to potential, they can upend the Delhi Capitals. Shreyas Iyer’s side tend to crack under pressure. So, an exciting qualifier awaits.