Sun­ris­ers de­fend 137 to go top of the ta­ble

Pakistan Observer - - SPORTS -

VISAKHA­P­AT­NAM—Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad pos­sess per­haps the best - and cer­tainly the most in-form - pace at­tack in the IPL, and this proved de­ci­sive in bowler-friendly con­di­tions that pro­duced a low-scor­ing thriller against Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants in Visakha­p­at­nam. There was turn, and R Ash­win and Adam Zampa - whose fig­ures of 6 for 19 were the sec­ond-best in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory - helped keep Sun­ris­ers to 137, but there was also swing for the new ball, a bit of bounce, and grip for Mustafizur Rah­man’s cut­ters.

The chase was a chess game. MS Dhoni pro­moted Ge­orge Bai­ley and Ash­win to Nos. 3 and 4 af­ter the early loss of both open­ers, with the third-wicket pair osten­si­bly in­structed to push the ball around and sta­bilise Su­per­giants’ in­nings, given the mod­est re­quired rate. Bai­ley and Ash­win put on 49 in eight overs, and when the part­ner­ship ended Su­per­giants needed 70 from 48 balls. Dhoni didn’t walk in then; he came in with 60 re­quired from 40.

It even­tu­ally came down to 42 off the last four, and Dhoni and This­ara Per­era, con­scious of the risk of hit­ting out against Mustafizur, were con­tent to take sin­gles and twos against the left-armer. The ploy kept Mustafizur wick­et­less, even as he con­ceded only 13 off his last two overs. Dhoni and Per­era made up for that in the 18th over, in which they took 15 off Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar, but they were still left need­ing 14 from the last over.

Ashish Nehra started the fi­nal over with a full ball that Per­era couldn’t get un­der, and then a per­fect yorker that Dhoni could only hit for one. Per­era skied the third ball to ex­tra cover, leav­ing 12 to get off the last three. Dhoni ham­mered the first of them - a full toss - over the wide long-on boundary, but when he was run out go­ing for a sec­ond that didn’t re­ally ex­ist - he went for it be­cause he sim­ply had to - Zampa was left need­ing to hit a six off the last ball, or a four to tie. He only man­aged an out­side edge to a fly­ing Na­man Ojha be­hind the stumps as Nehra closed the match with a wide yorker.

The win took Sun­ris­ers top of the points ta­ble, and left Su­per­giants with close to no chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the play­offs.

The cap­tain win­ning the toss had cho­sen to bowl in each of the 20 IPL games that pre­ceded this one, and David Warner raised a few eye­brows - in­clud­ing Dhoni’s - by opt­ing to bat. Given the swing and bounce avail­able to the quicks, a tra­di­tional good length was a pretty good T20 length as well, and Ashok Dinda and RP Singh, by dint of deny­ing the bats­men width, kept Sun­ris­ers to 34 in the first six overs, while dis­miss­ing Warner.

Ash­win, of­ten used spo­rad­i­cally by Dhoni in re­cent weeks, came on at the start of the non-Pow­er­play overs, and im­me­di­ately found the pitch to his lik­ing. His third ball spun from just out­side off stump and turned a long way down the leg side, beat­ing not just the ad­vanc­ing Kane Williamson but Dhoni as well. His fourth dipped on Shikhar Dhawan, left him search­ing far out in front of his body for a flick, and ran off the lead­ing edge through point.

Ash­win fin­ished his full quota in one go, dan­gling the ball above the bats­men’s eye-line and teas­ing them with dip and turn. He got Dhawan to hole out in his third over, and only con­ceded one run in his fourth, with two slips breath­ing down Yu­vraj Singh’s neck.

When Ash­win fin­ished his spell, Sun­ris­ers were 70 for 2 in 13 overs. Williamson and Yu­vraj hit two fours and two sixes in the next two, off Ra­jat Bha­tia and Per­era, be­fore the ad­vanc­ing Yu­vraj skewed a Zampa goo­gly to long-off. Williamson and Hen­riques took 12 off the 17th, bowled by Per­era, be­fore Zampa dis­missed both of them in the 18th, off suc­ces­sive balls. Both holed out to long-off, but the bowler played a big role in at least one of the dis­missals, forc­ing Williamson to reach out for a wide leg­break.

Dinda came back for the 19th, and - in hind­sight - bowled a match-turn­ing over, con­ced­ing 15. The four and six in that over came off at­tempted york­ers that didn’t miss the mark by much, but by enough. Ojha whipped the leg-stump half-vol­ley, and Deepak Hooda de­posited the full-toss high over mid­wicket.

Dhoni, of­ten averse to bowl­ing spin­ners in the end overs, threw the ball back to Zampa. Hooda ran down and hit his first ball for six, but the bowler saw him step­ping out again and fired in a wide leg­break. Then, off the last three balls of the in­nings, he bowled Ojha off the thigh pad with a slider, saw RP Singh put a skier down off Barinder Sran at short third man, and had Bhu­vnesh­war caught at long-on. Lit­tle would he have known then, as he walked off smil­ing, that he would be called on to bat with a boundary re­quired off the last ball of the match.—AFP Warner c Dhoni b Singh .. 11 Dhawan c Ti­wary b Ash­win33 Williamson b Zampa ........ 32 Yu­vraj c Ti­wary b Zampa 23 Hen­riques c Bha­tia b Zampa10 Hooda st Dhoni b Zampa . 14 Ojha b Zampa .................... 7 B Ku­mar c Ti­wary b Zampa1 Sran not out ........................ 1 Ex­tras: (lb 1, w 4) .............. 5 To­tal: (8 wick­ets) ........... 137 Fall of wick­ets: 1-18, 2-64, 396, 4-114, 5-114, 6-135, 7-136, 8-137 Bowl­ing: ............. O-M-R-W AB Dinda ............... 4-0-26-0 RP Singh ................ 3-0-23-1 R Ash­win ............... 4-0-16-1 A Zampa ................ 4-0-19-6 R Bha­tia ................. 3-0-26-0 Per­era ..................... 2-0-26-0 Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants in­nings: Ra­hane c Ojha b Ku­mar ..... 0 UT Khawaja run out ........ 11 Bai­ley c Nehra b Hen­riques 34 R Ash­win c Ojha b Sran .. 29 Ti­wary c Dhawan b Nehra . 9 Dhoni run out ................... 30 Per­era c Hen­riques b Nehra 17 Bha­tia not out .................... 0 A Zampa c Ojha b Nehra ... 0 Ex­tras: (lb 2, w 1) .............. 3 To­tal: (8 wick­ets) ........... 133 Fall of wick­ets: 1-0, 2-19, 368, 4-78, 5-86, 6-126, 7-133, 8-133 Bowl­ing: ............. O-M-R-W B Ku­mar ................ 4-1-20-1 A Nehra .................. 4-0-29-3 BB Sran ................. 4-0-26-1 Hen­riques ............... 3-0-20-1 Yu­vraj .................... 1-0-10-0 Mustafizur .............. 4-0-26-0 Twenty20 Blitz this month as he pur­sues a come­back in cricket’s short­est form. Clarke, one of the top bats­men of his gen­er­a­tion, will star at the four-team tour­na­ment from May 28-29 in a rare ap­pear­ance since his re­tire­ment last year.

“While I have never been to Hong Kong be­fore, I have heard so much about what a great place it is for sport,” he said in a state­ment from

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