Qualifier 1 of the IPL was a real humdinger that went down to the last over, and while it was disappointing to be on the wrong side of the result, Sunrisers Hyderabad can take great pride in the fight we put up against a formidable Chennai Super Kings side.
It didn’t help that we lost our captain and most consistent batsman of the tournament, Kane Williamson, as well as Shakib Al Hasan to catches down the leg-side. As a team, when two key batsmen get out in such fashion, it is easy to start feeling that the rub of the green isn’t going your way, but our campaign has been characterised by a positive approach and attitude. Yousuf Pathan first, and then Carlos Brathwaite in grand fashion, showcased those virtues though, at the break, we felt that 139 was about 20 to 25 runs too few.
We have great confidence in our bowling, and like the consummate professional that he is, Bhuvi once again led the way. Fully recovered from the mid-season injury, he got the ball to swing. Our only chance was to take wickets, and after Bhuvi provided the breakthrough, the rest chipped in to dent Chennai’s chase.
However, Chennai’s batting has been like our bowling. Where we have found means to defend low totals, they have unearthed different batting heroes, and this time, it was the turn of the experienced Faf du Plessis to put his hand up. Chennai have tended to take the game deep and refused to blink in adversity, trusting themselves to get the job done. Faf symbolised that and played a brilliant knock under the circumstances.
I know we have now lost four games in a row, but in a knockout situation, that doesn’t mean anything. We start Qualifier 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders with a clean slate, knowing that it will be a huge challenge but also excited at the prospect. Kolkata recovered from a series of early jolts on an initially damp surface to comfortably get the better of Rajasthan Royals. They have a bunch of dangerous ball-strikers and, not for the first time, Dinesh Karthik rallied them around. Shubman Gill batted beautifully and Andre Russell provided the final flourish, but Rajasthan seemed to have the chase under control through Ajinkya and Sanju Samson.
With 50 needed off five overs and a bunch of wickets in hand, the chasing side wins more often than not but Kolkata kept their nerve and kept picking up wickets, reiterating that there is no better dot-ball than the one that comes with a ‘W’. Both our seasons now hinge on what happens at the Eden on Friday.