Sunrisers Hyderabad did what it does best — defending below-par scores in style.
After an impressive bowling at the death by Royal Challengers Bangalore's Mohammed Siraj condemned Sunrisers to 146, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddharth Kaul rose to the occasion to send Royal Challengers almost packing, except for mathematical possibilities, out of the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League. RCB could only manage 141 runs in the end and lost the match by five runs, in a nerve-wrecking manner.
Sunrisers now has 16 points from 10 matches while RCB stays put with just six points from 10 matches.
In a must-win match, RCB bowlers came out all guns blazing but its batsmen faltered when it mattered, yet again.
The match saw fortunes fluctuating in the most volatile fashion. As and when the RCB batsmen got into a flow and were setting up a partnership, the SRH bowlers struck and kept the team in the hunt.
In front of a sell-out crowd of 35,000, Virat Kohli got into his elements in quick fashion. He started by driving Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the cover region boundary with a shot that was a trademark of the champion – his head was still, the timing, placement, the bat lift and poise, exquisite.
Manan Vohra couldn't lend support to the marauding Kohli but when AB de Villiers joined the big man, hopes of a rollicking batting fest surfaced.
However, Shakib had the last laugh when he induced an outside edge off Kohli only for Yusuf Pathan to pluck a brilliant one-handed catch at short third man. De Villiers too didn't last long as he chopped on a googly from Rashid Khan on to his stunmps.
Moeen Ali got a couple of boundaries to his name and was looking good for more, but he perished trying to pull Siddharth Kaul, offering a faint edge to the wicketkeeper.
Mandeep Singh and Colin de Grandhomme then set the stage for a grand finish. The batsmen took their time, rotated the strike and attacked the bad balls. Grandhomme was harsh on Rashid, picking him for 14 runs in the 17 over to put RCB back into the contest.
But with 19 required from the last two overs, Siddharth Kaul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept their composure to deny the RCB batsmen and script another edge-of-the-seat win.
Earlier, RCB strangulated the SRH batsmen with tight bowling and reduce the host to 48/3 in nine overs. A 64-run partnership in 46 balls for the fourth wicket between Williamson (56, 39 balls, 5x4, 2x6) and Shakib Al Hasan (35, 32 balls, 5x4) revived the Sunrisers.
The duo united after Alex Hales, who was castled by Tim Southee off a screamer, Shikhar Dhawan (13, 19 balls, 1x4) and Manish Pandey (5, 7 balls) failed to capitalise. While Dhawan pulled Siraj to Southee at fine-leg, Manish Pandey gave catching practice to Virat Kohli at short cover.
However, Williamson and Shakib departed in quick succession to leave the host at a precaurious 124/5.
Both Williamson and Shakib fell in a similar fashion, trying to heave the quicker bowlers and ended up finding the man at deep backward square leg. While Williamson walked across his stumps to heave Umesh Yadav and found Mandeep Singh, Shakib picked Umesh to perfection off Tim Southee.
Kohli got his trump card, Siraj, back in the death and the bowler responded with twin wickets of the dangerous Pathan (12, 7 balls, 2x4) and Wriddhiman Saha (8, 5 balls, 1x6) in the 19th over.
Rashid, Kaul and Sandeep Sharma all fell in the last over of SRH's innings in an attempt to accelerate and SRH was bowled out for 146. It was the second time SRH lost all its wickets this season.
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