Faf Du Plessis and Steve Smith batted quite well as Pune Supergiants broke their losing streak by defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 34 runs (D/L Method) in a rain-affected match on Tuesday.
For all the decisions and strategies involved, this was a match with a difference. MS Dhoni made the right call with the coin as well as the changes in the team. He dove full length and held on to catches that effectively put the brakes on Sunrisers Hyderabad’s scoring.
There was a change in Dhoni’s strategy as well.
R Ashwin finally bowled his quota of overs, conceded 14 runs and chipped in with the wicket of Deepak Hooda, courtesy a fine catch by Dhoni. R Ashwin, this time, was given just one over. He leaked six runs but could have got Shikhar Dhawan had Ajinkya Rahane not dropped him at long-off after running in almost 15 yards.
Dhawan made good use of that life by staying put till the last delivery. Given how the ball was seaming around, very few would have put their bet on Dhawan lasting the innings. That the game can be a great leveller was proved by Dhawan’s resistance. He did well to have a strike rate of more than 100. But the fact that he could string together only two boundaries and a six showed how difficult the pitch had become for hitting through the line.
Sudden showers were to blame for the ball seaming around. But it didn’t deter Bhuvneshwar Kumar from producing four clean hits that fetched him and his team 18 runs.
That ensured Hyderabad’s bowlers had at least something to work on. With the ball moving in the second innings as well, Bhuvi quickly got down to business. He was a touch wide with his fourth delivery that moved further away from Rahane, who lashed at it but couldn’t surpass Eoin Morgan at point.
With Ashish Nehra coming back from an injury layoff and Mustafizur Rahman in form, Hyderabad couldn’t have been faulted for counting their chicken. But in a low-scoring match, first impression matters. Nehra gave away five runs in his first over but looked wayward.
He returned to concede a wide and boundary after Aditya Tare made a mess of Steve Smith’s authoritative pull. It bookended an over from Mustafizur that could have changed the complexion of the match but Smith proved too mature for the Bangladesh pacer.
Mustafizur first squared up Smith with a cutter that was collected by wicketkeeper Naman Ojha almost at chest level. It prompted a late but mute caught-behind appeal from Ojha, but in two shots Smith seemed to recover from a shaky start. He first flicked Mustafizur through mid-on for four before staying back at the crease and opening the face of his bat at the last moment for a smart boundary. That over essentially set the tone of the match.