Dhawan, bowlers lead Sunrisers’ cruise


Sunrisers Hyderabad v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2017, Hyderabad

Sunrisers Hyderabad rode on a counter-attacking second-wicket partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Moises Henriques to outplay Mumbai Indians and keep their playoff chances alive. Dhawan and Henriques walloped a stand of 91 that came off just 11 overs as Sunrisers razed a target of 139 with 10 balls to spare and maintained their stronghold at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium with their sixth win in seven matches at the ground.

Shikhar Dhawan guided the Sunrisers Hyderabad to a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in IPL 2017 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad

Sunrisers’ position on the table remained unchanged, but they stayed afloat as the race to the playoffs got tighter. The win also brought the curtains down on Delhi Daredevils who do not stand to qualify for the final four anymore.

Switched on, switched off

Sunrisers oscillated between sharp and lax in the early exchanges. Their bowlers made good use of a slow surface where shot-making wasn’t at its easiest. Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone with a tight first over. And with Mohammad Nabi following suit, it took 10 deliveries for Mumbai to crack. Lendl Simmons lost his middle stump, swinging wildly and missing a quicker, non-turning offbreak from Nabi. Mumbai were 4 for 1 after two overs.

Mohammed Siraj undid some of that good work next over, when Parthiv Patel and Nitish Rana capitalised on poor lines and lengths to punish him for 16. The surge, however, was short-lived. While Nabi got a few to stop and turn, the odd ball kept the pacers interested as well. Siddarth Kaul got a shorter one to hurry on to Rana, who lobbed a catch to mid-off trying to fetch a pull. Kaul’s next ball wasn’t too dissimilar. This time Parthiv played the line, but couldn’t keep the slap down, picking out point where Vijay Shankar let it burst through. Fortunately for Sunrisers, they weren’t left to rue the chance, as Kaul took pace off and Parthiv chipped a knuckle ball to long-on two overs later.

Rohit bats on a different plane

Before Monday, Rohit had faced 37 balls of legspin and scored just 35 while perishing four times. On Monday, off the first ball he faced from Rashid Khan, he deftly used the width to guide him through third man for four. Then, with Mumbai having limped to 59 for 3 at the halfway stage, Rohit broke the shackles by going against the spin of Rashid, launching him over long-on for six. Overall, he collected 16 runs off the 11 balls he faced from the legspinner.

Rohit then settled into a beautiful rhythm. That he rarely played across the line showed how well he had read the pace of the surface. His three fours off Moises Henriques in the 14th over further demonstrated his class. When Henriques took pace off, Rohit picked it early and pierced the cover region; when Henriques banged it in at pace, Rohit calmly opened the face to steer it into the gap.

Unlike Rohit, the rest of Mumbai’s batsmen struggled against Rashid. Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, especially, hardly picked him. Hardik, who had helped Rohit stitch together 60 for the fourth wicket, tried to slog his way out and skewed a top-edge to cover. But Rohit continued to pinch singles and find the boundary. By the time he fell, he had struck over 50% of his team’s runs. Following his dismissal, Mumbai added just 12 more off 11 balls and lost two wickets.

Big loss, big hitting

With Sunrisers desperately in search of a win, Mitchell McClenaghan pinging the back pad of David Warner first ball of the second over, meant pressure on. But Mumbai conceded the early advantage through poor bowling. They hardly made an effort to take pace off the ball. To Mumbai’s misfortune, the pitch did ease up in the second innings. It compounded the shorter lengths they tried out as Dhawan and Henriques relished the pace and picked their areas.

Dhawan’s sixes over long-on off Karn Sharma – a muscular heave to a fuller one from outside the crease and a flat-batted shovel to a shorter one – showed how well he had sussed out the pace of the surface. Henriques, likewise, played well off either foot. Successive fours off Malinga in the 11th over – to a full toss and a shorter one – exposed the predictability of Mumbai’s bowling.

When Henriques fell to a slower offcutter from Bumrah, shortly after Harbhajan had put down a return catch, Sunrisers were left with 41 to get off 47. And though Yuvraj Singh struggled with an injured finger, Dhawan closed out the game without undue risks. (ESPNCricinfo)

Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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