Bhuvneshwar Kumar took three wickets in an over to cancel out Shane Watson’s hat-trick as Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Rajasthan Royals by 32 runs to register their third win in seven matches at Ahmedabad on Thursday night.
Dale Steyn, who bowled a 24-run over against Royal Challengers batsman AB de Villiers in SRH’s four-wicket defeat on Sunday, also came back strongly to help his team defend a modest 134 for 9. Steyn accounted for the in-from Karun Nair (12) at the start, and in a tight scenario towards the end sent back Australian Steven Smith (22) to play his part in the win.
However, there is no denying that it was Bhuvneshwar’s bowling that made the difference in the end. His wicket of opener Ajinkya Rahane off the third ball of the innings set the tone for SRH. In the 17th over, Bhuvneshwar got rid of James Faulkner (4), Rajat Bhatia (4) and Kane Richardson (1) to deal the coup-de-grace to RR. Man-of-the-Match Bhuvneswar’s dominance could be gauged from the fact that he bowled 17 dot balls in his spell. After returning 4 for 14, the medium pacer also became the Purple Cap holder with 14 wickets.
RR were never in the chase after losing Rahane and Nair early on and except Smith, none of their batsmen could even hang in there. By all means it was a pathetic batting performance for RR (102 all out in 19.5 overs) as they suffered their third defeat in eight matches, with a four-match winning streak also coming to an end.
Earlier in the day, Watson (3 for 13) became the second bowler this season after team-mate Pravin Tambe to take a hat-trick. Watson is a different breed; he doesn’t run in like most medium pacers who carry an air of urgency. The Australian runs in casually and to first-time observers he looks unlikely to get wickets. That’s actually a trap. While he may not look like a wicket-taking bowler, he has prodigious swing at his disposal and that’s where the complacent batsmen get conned. That’s what happened to Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques and Karn Sharma.
Dhawan (33 off 20 balls, 7x4s ) showed excellent form at the start, hitting one boundary after another with ease. For the first time in the tournament, the India opener looked convincing but against the run of play he was bowled by Watson off the last ball of the fourth over. The batsman showed his surprise at the way the ball skidded though and hit the off stump. Watson returned in the 17th over and claimed the wickets of Henriques and Karn off the first two balls to complete his hat-trick. Henriques, who replaced Darren Sammy for this game, found Ajinkya Rahane at long-off after making 8, while Karn edged the next delivery straight through to wicketkeeper Sanju Samson for a duck.
It’s true that RR bowled well but there is no denying the SRH batsmen weren’t also up to scratch. Opener Aaron Finch was uncharacteristically tethered during his 10-ball 9 and eventually fell to Bhatia when he found Rahane at midwicket while trying to hit the bowler out of the park. Wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha was promoted up the order ahead of David Warner to keep Lokesh Rahul company. Like Dhawan, Rahul (18) also looked in good touch before losing his stumps to Bhatia eyeing a sweep.
Things took a turn for the worse for SRH when Warner, who came in to bat at No.5, was sent back by last-match hat-trick man Tambe for six. The Australian chose a googly to charge down the track; missed the ball and Samson did his job in a flash. Ojha (17) also failed to make a mark, becoming Bhatia’s third victim after losing his stumps. Bhatia finished with 3 for 23.
The last over of the match bowled by James Faulkner saw two dramatic run-outs and that actually summed up SRH’s day in batting. Irfan Pathan ran for a bye but Steyn failed to reach the other end as Samosn hit the stumps, while Amit Mishra showed plenty of absentmindedness to give Samson his second run-out of the day.
Brief score: Sunrisers Hyderabad 134 for 9 in 20 overs (Dhawan 33; Watson 3/13; Bhatia 3/23) beat Rajasthan Royals 102 all out in 19.5 overs (Smith 22; Bhuvneshwar 4/14) by 32 runs