Sunrisers Hyderabad's bowler M Muralitharan (C) celebrates the wicket of PA Reddy of RCB's batsman during IPL match in Hyderabad. PTI Photo
When the opposition has in its ranks the likes of a destructive force in the form of Chris Gayle, it is always prudent to work out a strategy to counter the storm.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad did just that, and more importantly executed the plan to the hilt on Sunday night against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The home team introduced off-break bowler Hanuma Vihari in the second over of the match, knowing the Jamaican's penchant to play the cut shot. Gayle fell for the trap, first ball of the over, edging the ball to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel. Thus, a major threat was quelled.
That meant the much anticipated duel between Gayle and Dale Steyn never materialized after Challengers' skipper Virat Kohli, wary of the slow pitch where Pune Warriors fumbled chasing a modest total, elected to bat. Gayle had faced just one delivery in Steyn's opening over before he fell to the local spinner.
After getting the prized wicket, Sunrisers skipper Kumar Sangakkara replaced Vihari, who eventually ended with just one over, with pacer Ishant Sharma.
The change also proved fruitful as the lanky pacer castled Tillakaratne Dishan, reducing the visitors to 22 for two in the fourth over.
Sangakkara shuffled his bowlers wisely, putting the opponents under constant pressure. It was the pressure of losing Gayle and Dilshan early that forced the Bangalore outfit to curb the aggression they are known for.
Kohli (46 - 44 balls, 5x4, 1x6) though kept the scoreboard ticking with Australian Moises Henriques.
He launched Ishant for a big six over long off but his stay ended after bowler Ashish Reddy took a brilliant return catch.
Henriques clobbered Steyn's length ball through cover for four to bring up the team's hundred in the 17th over.
But the South African speedster had Mayank Agrawal caught at mid-off in the same over to push the visitors on the backfoot again. Henriques (44 - 40 balls, 5x4) stayed on till the last over.
Ishant, who returned 3 for 27, took two wickets in the last over conceding just five runs.
Had it not been for the dropped chances, the Challengers would have been bowled out for a lesser score. Still, 130 was not a total easy to defend.
But Moises Henriques removed his Aussie compatriot Cameron White as well as Parthiv Patel cheaply to put the home team under pressure. It was left to local lads Akshath Reddy (23) and Vihari to keep Sunrisers in the fight.
Hanuma Vihari’s unbeaten 44 pulled Sunrisers level with RCB. In the Super Over, Sunrisers’ 20 runs first up sealed the deal.