The rebuilding of Sunrisers Hyderabad was supposedly going to be a long and painful one. Not so, apparently. The 2016 IPL champions have already returned to winning ways, the very next game after having their playoff chances in the 2021 campaign extinguished. They did it in style, too, dispatching Rajasthan Royals with nine balls and seven wickets to spare.
It may be too early to herald in a new era, but there was one thing conspicuous about Hyderabad’s victory at the Dubai International Stadium. It came in the absence of David Warner. The Australian opener captained the franchise to that title five years ago and has been central to them being one of the IPL’s most consistent sides in the recent past. His form this season, though, has been unbecoming of one of the most voracious run-getters in the IPL’s history.
He had already been deposed as captain by Kane Williamson. And now his place in the XI has gone, too. Warner was not even at the ground to see his side notch just their second win of the campaign.
Significantly, his replacement was a central figure in bringing about the win. It felt odd to see Jason Roy being handed his cap before the game. Despite him being with Hyderabad seemingly for ages, this was the England opener’s debut. He was evidently keen to make up for a lost time. He raced to 60 from 42 balls, which included one huge six into the smattering of supporters in the second-tier. Although he departed before victory was sealed, he had laid the platform. His captain Williamson ended it with successive fours, clipped elegantly through mid-wicket off Mustafizur Rahman in the penultimate of the scheduled overs.
The result will have been keenly received by a number of other teams. In particular, it has breathed life into the flagging title defense of Mumbai Indians. It was a hammer blow for Rajasthan, though, as they were eyeing a place in the playoff positions – and looked well set to do so for the majority of their batting effort. As has so often been the case this season, it was captain Sanju Samson who led the way for the IPL’s inaugural champions. The Keralite struck 82 from 57 balls, which was his second successive half-century in matches in the UAE. In the process, he passed 3,000 IPL runs and took the orange cap as the leading run-scorer in the tournament from Shikhar Dhawan.
His hitting was both silky and savage. He took Siddarth Kaul for 20 in an over, only to fall to the same bowler in the last. That, though, was symptomatic of a late stutter which might well have proved crucial in the final count-up. Rajasthan took an under-par 21 runs from their final three overs, meaning they posted 164-5 from their 20 overs. That proved well within the capabilities of the likes of Roy and Williamson.
Chasing 165, debutant Jason Roy and wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha took Sunrisers to a flying start. The pair added 57 runs in just five overs before Saha got out. But, Roy continued the domination and reached his first half-century of the cash-rich league for the ‘Orange Army’.
Roy put together a crucial 57-run stand with skipper Kane Williamson for the second wicket before Chetan Sakariya sent him back to the dugout. Williamson, however, kept on tickling the scoreboard and got his team home by staying unbeaten on 51 off 41 balls. Earlier, Sanju Samson was on absolute fire with the bat to take his side to a respectable total. Samson took SRH bowlers to the cleaners and played a breathtaking knock of 82 runs off 57 deliveries, including seven fours and three humungous sixes.
Apart from the captain, opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (36 off 23) and middle-order batter Mahipal Lomror (29 not out) made valuable contributions to help Rajasthan post 164/5 in their allotted 20 overs. Jason Holder and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were the least expensive bowlers for the Sunrisers. While Holder gave away 27 runs in his quota of 4 overs, Bhuvneshwar conceded 28 runs in 4 overs and also picked up the prized scalp of RR opener Evin Lewis (6).