Had the stands been modified? No, they were simply bathed in a sea of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s orange. On the first day of action after May 16, the pitch was rather covert in the way it conjured up a political parallel.
A tinge of green on the outside, slow on the inside, to paraphrase, among others, a leader whose very public felicitation of Kolkata Knight Riders post their first IPL title triumph met with a rather mixed reaction.
For a venue that saw 205 runs being chased down with consummate ease, Sunday was quite a dampener. Sunrisers failed to justify their new skipper Darren Sammy’s decision to bat first, putting up a rather modest 142.
This despite getting 39 runs off Morne Morkel’s four overs, the Knight Riders’ strike pacer only partly to blame – while his radar was off, his fielders (Sunil Narine and stumper Robin Uthappa in particular) did not help his cause one bit.
Umesh Yadav was more on the money, but the noose was tightened by the Knight Riders’ slow bowlers.
Spin in the mix
That the track was no a rank turner did not stop the visitors from fielding their usual trio of spinners. Not that Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Shakib al Hasan are big tweakers of the leather.
A conventional off-break from the wily Narine forced Shikhar Dhawan, the burden of captaincy off his shoulders, to top edge one straight to a fumbling Gautam Gambhir at square leg.
Robin Uthappa botching Naman Ojha’s stumping off Shakib didn’t make a difference to the Bangladesh left-armer’s figures, who got rid of Ojha and, later, Sammy. And Chawla, who of late has been bowling more flippers and googlies than his conventional leg break, trapped Lokesh Rahul in front with one that went the other way.
Chasing, the script remained mostly unchanged. Runs continued to be hard to come by, and Sunrisers were sloppy in the field. Dhawan dropping a skier that at least two other fielders could have reached with as much ease helped Uthappa on his way to another sizeable contribution, a 33-ball 40. Sammy’s chance was somewhat tougher, but Manish Pandey could not make the most of the respite that came his way.
It boiled down to the Knight Riders’ two bright spots in the field earlier in the evening. Yusuf Pathan, whose direct hit sent back Karn Sharma, and Ryan ten Doeschate, who saved quite a few runs down at the boundary, saw their side home.