If a team takes more balls to reach the second fifty than the first in a Twenty20 match there is something wrong with them. Playing at home for the first time, Sunrisers Hyderabad just couldn’t get the acceleration at the right time as tight bowling by Pravin Tambe and Dhawal Kulkarni, aided by superb ground fielding, allowed Rajasthan Royals to restrict their opponents to a score they would fancy chasing anywhere.
Dismissals of Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner in successive overs hurt Sunrisers Hyderabad to an extent that even a 52-run stand between Naman Ojha and Eoin Morgan, who got his first game, looked at best a patch-up job.
First Dhawan almost walked across to guide Kulkarni’s leaving delivery to Sanju Samson behind the stumps. Then a moment of magic from Ajinkya Rahane at point undid Warner, who had single-handedly ensured a comfortable win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Having failed to put enough bat to ball, Lokesh Rahul was on his backfoot when Warner took off for a run. He continued walking to the dugout. Rahul fell to Kulkarni first ball of the next over.
Ojha wouldn’t even have lasted that long in the only mentionable partnership had James Faulkner not overstepped while digging in a short one which he top-edged to ‘keeper Sanju Samson.
Ojha didn’t make that reprieve count. Nor did Morgan, who was trapped leg-before by Tambe trying a reverse sweep after Samson had missed a stumping the previous delivery.
But the job was more than half done for Royals by then. Knowing that a sedate start won’t hurt their chances, Rahane and Samson took their time. Trent Boult was again economical to start with but the openers didn’t look to attack much either. Posting their first 50-run partnership in the tournament seemed a priority, and it was done in the eighth over.
Till then Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers didn’t look to trouble Royals at all. Only when Samson tried a cheeky late cut off Bopara did Hyderabad get their first breakthrough. Then leggie Karn Sharma lured Steve Smith into a drive that went straight to Warner at cover. Apparently this wasn’t a day for Karnataka’s brightest bats.
After Rahul failed in the first innings, Karun Nair gave a simple return catch to Ravi Bopara. Still, it didn’t give Hyderabad a slightest chance of getting back in the game.
So assured are the Royals of their winning ability that they didn’t mind leaving it a little too late. There was never a doubt who would win.