Sunrisers Hyderabad get the job done against RR, into IPL 2024 final | Crickit
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Sunrisers Hyderabad get the job done against RR, into IPL 2024 final

By, Chennai
May 25, 2024 12:08 AM IST

Spinners Shahbaz and Abhishek share five wickets as SRH set up clash with KKR for a shot at the title

With three wickets to show at an economy rate of 10.71 coming into the game, few would have thought left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmad would out-bowl more illustrious names like Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal. But he did exactly that to take Sunrisers Hyderabad into the final of the 2024 season of the Indian Premier League.

Sunrisers Hyderabad players celebrate after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 cricket match against Rajasthan Royals, at MA Chidambaram Stadium(PTI)
Sunrisers Hyderabad players celebrate after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 cricket match against Rajasthan Royals, at MA Chidambaram Stadium(PTI)

Defending 175, in a three-over spell after the Powerplay, Shahbaz didn't put a foot wrong. He pulled his length back to get the rampaging Yashasvi Jaiswal 41 (21b) to miscue a hoick. Then got the prolific Riyan Parag (6) to hole out at cow corner and finally got Ashwin caught behind for no score.

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Punching the air and shouting his lungs out in celebration after each wicket, the usually under-the-radar Bengal all-rounder helped SRH set up a final date with Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday. RR ended up being 36 runs short.

In six overs, Shabaz combined with Abhishek Sharma to steal the match away from Rajasthan Royals, who at 56/1, were in a good position after the Powerplay. Only 25 runs came off the 36 balls and 4 wickets fell too. RR found themselves at 65/2 after 7 overs and in deep trouble.

As the pitch began to take sharp turn, SRH skipper Pat Cummins decided to go all in with spin. Even Abhishek completed his full quota and got important wickets of Sanju Samson (10) and Shimron Hetmyer (4) to finish with figures of 4-0-24-2. The combined figures of the two left-arm spinners read 8-0-47-5.

The manner is which the spinners found life easier in the second essay – with 1.8-3.3 degrees of turn – proved to be a key factor on what had, of late, been a good chasing ground. In the first innings, Chahal and Ashwin bowled 8 wicket-less overs between them for 77 runs. So much in T20 cricket is about the present and the present alone.

It foiled what seemed to be an impressive bowling performance by RR. With the bat, it wasn’t Abhishek Sharma’s day. But two of the other destructive SRH batters of the season Travis Head and Heinrich Klaasen occupied the crease for more than half the innings – 62 balls to be precise. This time they managed only 84 runs, but they may have got a measure of why they would retain a chance to win if they posted a fighting total.

The RR pacers had decided that slow was the way to go. It was the basis of Sandeep Sharma’s impressive 4-0-25-2 spell. Sandeep used his slower bouncers liberally, checked SRH’s scoring rate in the middle overs and saw the back of both Head 34 (28b) and Klaasen 50 (34b).

When the day began, RR gave the 29,225-strong Chepauk crowd a nostalgic feel by introducing Ashwin in the Powerplay. But there would not be first over wicket this time with Rahul Tripathi putting on a show against his ex-franchise. The SRH right-hander took the attack against Ashwin’s bouquet of carrom balls with a flurry of boundaries. Boult off-set most of Tripathi’s gains with a 3-wicket burst in the Powerplay.

Clearly in a hurry and true to SRH’s batting style, Tripathi couldn’t resist a poke at an attempted ramp against Boult’s slower bouncer which ended his cameo on 15-ball 37. Boult picked up two more wickets, not so much with swing but some extra zip and change of lengths. Abhishek 12 (5b) perished edging a pull shot and Aiden Markram (1) mistimed a drive against an away-going delivery.

SRH’s calling card all season has been their unrestrained scoring tempo. But in a knockout, crucially, they choose to step back a gear after losing 4 wickets at the half-way stage.

Samson saw an opportunity to allow Yuzvendra Chahal to challenge Klaasen, to see if he could play with the South African batter’s ego. In the 13th over, a fascinating game of cat-and-mouse ensued, but Klaasen was content with a solitary six. He clearly wanted to delay upping the ante.

Avesh Khan dismissed Nitish Reddy and Abdul Samad off successive balls and restricted SRH’s death overs score to 43. But SRH, the team with the least spin impact in the tournament yet, was going to put up a show with their tweakers when it mattered.

RR’s campaign which had begun with such flourish through 8 wins in the first 9 league matches came to a disappointing end. They'll go away thinking of what might have been. SRH, though, have deservedly earned a shot at the title.

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