There were two chief aspects to Sunrisers Hyderabad’s clash against Kolkata Knight Riders at Uppal. One, they were under extreme pressure, knowing that had to beat Kolkata to qualify. At the same time, they were aware that their luck was in their own hands, unlike Royal Challengers Bangalore, who had to wait for the outcome of the Sunrisers-Kolkata clash to ascertain their fate in the this year’s IPL. As such, Sunrisers could either have succumbed to the do-or-die situation or could have come up with an inspired performance, aware that one big effort would get them into the top four. Credit to Sunrisers for choosing the latter, as a result of which they ousted Bangalore from the competition.
The clinching aspect of the game for Sunrisers was the smashing opening partnership they had between Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel. Agreed, the hosts weren’t chasing a huge total. At the same time, this wasn’t the easiest surface to bat on, and it is no secret that batting isn’t Sunrisers’ strong point. This is why the opening partnership between Dhawan and Patel was so significant. Had Sunrisers lost a few wickets early, Kolkata could definitely have put themselves in trouble. But the Sunrisers openers ensured that nothing of that sort happened, as a result of which they cruised to another victory, almost.
What Dhawan and Patel did exceedingly well from the very start was that they never allowed the Kolkata bowlers to settle. Both Dhawan and Patel highly aggressive strokes, but significantly, while doing that they ensured that they did not play too many rash strokes. The exuberant talent of Sunrisers’ openers came to the fore during their opening stand, which made Kolkata’s bowlers look pedestrian, and augurs well for them as they head into the play-offs in their debut season. The fact that Dhawan and Patel batted fluently on the same surface where most of Kolkata’s batters struggled was a clear indication of how confidently the duo batted.
There was a brief flutter for Sunrisers after they lost a few wickets in a hurry, but the fact that they did not have to maintain a high run rate went in their favour, which saw them through in the end. Kolkata’s uninspired bowling in the first half of the innings all but handed the game to Sunrisers on a platter. The ploy to open with Yusuf Pathan backfired. Apart from him, Pradeep Sangwan, Shami Ahmed and Jacques Kallis also failed to make any sort of an impression.
Earlier in the day, Sunrisers, for the umpteenth time, came up with a solid bowling performance to restrict the opponents. Dale Steyn was deadly as ever while Amit Mishra, Anand Ranjan and Karan Sharma stifled the opposition with some tight bowling. Kolkata did not do themselves any good, by losing wickets at frequent intervals. Under the circumstances, Yusuf Pathan did come up with a liberating knock, but it was a case of too little too late.
Turning point of the game: The 89-run opening stand between Dhawan and Patel.
--By A Cricket Analyst