Rashid Khan's all-round show helps SRH edge out KKR

Sunrisers Hyderabad held their nerves to pip out Kolkata Knight Riders at the post by 13 runs on Friday (May 25th) to set up a finale with Chennai Super Kings on Sunday (May 27th). Set a target of 175, Kolkata stumbled at the penultimate hurdle as they lost regular wickets in the middle overs to never recover and succumb to a heart-breaking loss.

Rashid Khan’s all-round brilliance (34 runs and 3 wickets) paved the way for Hyderabad who found themselves in a maze before finding their way out on the back of their bowling, once again. This also broke SRH’s run of four losses on the bounce.

Brave calls in the playing XI!

Both teams wanted to chase. KKR though got the rub of the green and put SRH in first. SRH decided to hand Khaleel Ahmed an IPL debut whereas KKR went in with only three foreigners. It was about shedding inhibitions and both teams decided to make some brave early moves. Shivam Mavi came in for Javon Searles for KKR and vindicated the move. His first spell – 3-0-21-0 – tied the batsman down, especially the local man – Saha, who struggled against his pace and control.

The drop and the recovery

Saha was summoned to play this game ahead of Shreevats Gowsami. And after a brief stutter, Saha tried to break free and only managed a huge skier. The ball went towards the square leg area and swirled a bit for Dinesh Karthik to go for it. But the KKR skipper made a meal of it. That allowed the opening duo of Saha-Dhawan to go on and add 56 runs for the first wicket. This was the seventh time that KKR had failed to pick up a wicket in the powerplay period.

Kuldeep Yadav and his Eden magic 3.0

After picking up a hat-trick at the Eden Gardens last year against Australia, Kuldeep had stifled the Rajasthan team earlier in the IPL with a 4-fer to hand them a royal shellacking. The twin blows in his first over completely derailed SRH’s innings. First, he foxed Dhawan with a full and flighted delivery to trap him LBW and a googly sneaked the edge of Williamson’s bat to push SRH on the backfoot.

A last lap hurrah

The unfortunate run-outs of Shakib and Brathwaite meant SRH never got going. Add to it Hooda and Yusuf Pathan’s failures, SRH hit a massive roadblock when they should have been trailblazing at the end. SRH though had Rashid Khan (34 off 10) fuelling their innings with some lusty hits and taking them to 174. 50 runs off the last three overs meant the ebbs and flows of the game kept it on a balance.

The customary Narine cameo!

Sunil Narine and his pyrotechnics have not had an antidote. And once again, a breezy 26 off 13 balls put Kolkata in the driver’s seat. SRH and their plans went helter-skelter. With Lynn joining the act got, KKR 67 runs – their highest tally in the powerplay period in this edition of the IPL.

Did SRH get their strategy wrong?

Delaying the introduction of spin against Lynn, who has been vulnerable against it was something that baffled whlle there were no short balls and hit the deck deliveries to make Narine’s job easier. It was like pellets pitted against a crusading tank. Even Khaleel Ahmed’s inception for a second over did not help the skipper’s cause.

Where KKR lost the game…

After a blistering start in the powerplay period, the wheels came off as the spinners came on, especially Rashid Khan. Nitish Rana started off the collapse as he got run-out. Rashid Khan was the fielder. Who else could it have been? Like air, he was everywhere. Robin Uthappa followed suit thanks to a suicidal reverse sweep. Dinesh Karthik dragged it on off Shakib and Lynn was out LBW to an in-dipper off Rashid. Russell had to negate an over of Rashid but he ended up edging one to the man at slip. Kane Williamson’s razor-sharp captaincy was on the money again as he went for the jugular after the first 6 overs. The equation was down to 57 runs off 5 overs with Shubman Gill and Piyush Chawla left to do the job.

Lessons learnt the harsh way?

After handing the 17th over to Carlos Brathwaite and losing it in qualifier 1, Hyderabad learnt their lessons pretty quickly and trusted their best bowlers to bowl over number 18 and 19. Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away 9 runs in the 18th over and Sidharth Kaul conceded 11 runs and picked a wicket to squeeze the life out of the chase. Well almost! 19 was needed off the final over.

The final rites from the ‘serial defenders’

Number 19, Eden Gardens, Carlos Brathwaite. Rang a bell? This time though it was a place in the final. This time Carlos had to defend these runs and he started off conceding a four off the first ball. But switching over to round the wicket and restricting room for bat-swing, he got Mavi first and then Gill, caught at deep mid-wicket to that man, Rashid Khan, who was simply not going to make a mistake on the day. But that scuppered the chase as SRH won the game by 13 runs.

What next?

2018 IPL final: Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, May 27.

Brief scores: SRH 174/7 in 20 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 35, Rashid Khan 34*; Kuldeep Yadav 2-29) beat KKR 161/9 in 20 overs (Chris Lynn 48, Shubman Gill 30; Rashid Khan 3-19) by 13 runs

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