Impact sub Ahamed spins Sunrisers to victory

cricket24 May 2024 19:48
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Sunrisers H © PhotoShelter

Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahamed spun the Sunrisers Hyderabad to a comfortable 36-run victory over the Rajasthan Royals in their Tata IPL 2nd Qualifier in Chennai on Friday night.

The win propels the Sunrisers into the final against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the same venue on Sunday.

Ahamed, who played as an impact sub, struck a useful 18 in the Sunrisers’ innings, helping Heinrich Klaasen (50) to add a valuable 43 in 25 balls to enable the Sunrisers to compile a respectable 175 for nine on a slowish pitch that rewarded pace-off deliveries from the Royals’ bowlers. But his real value came in the Royals’ innings when the left-arm spinner claimed 3/23 in his four overs. Remarkably, he had bowled only three overs in the entire tournament before this.

He and fellow left-arm spinner Abhishek Sharma (2/24 in four overs) strangled the Royals’ innings in the middle overs, going for a combined 5/47 in their eight overs. They were helped by the fact that no dew materialised in the second innings, slowing the pitch considerably for the tweakers.

In the end, it was only an impressive unbeaten 56 in 35 balls by Dhruv Jurel that enabled the Royals to reach their final total of 139 for seven, but this proved well short of what was required.

The Royals will regret a slow start to their run-chase, only scoring 31 in their first five overs for the loss of opener Tom Kohler-Cadmore who lost his composure, attempting to slog almost every ball before finally falling to Pat Cummins.

Yashasvi Jaiswal gave the Royals some hope, taking 19 off the sixth and final over of the powerplay before holing out in the deep off Ahamed for a fluent 42 off 21 balls. Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag both fell to poor shots and the game was almost up until Jurel came to the fore, striking seven fours and two sixes in his excellent innings that proved too little too late.

Earlier, superb bowling from Royals’ pacemen Avesh Khan and Sandeep Sharma restricted the Sunrisers to what seemed to be a respectable but not intimidating total.

Between them Khan (3/27) and Sharma (2/25) took 5/52 between them in their combined eight overs, a superb exhibition of controlled medium-pace bowling with excellent variations in length and pace on a slowish pitch.

Add to that another explosive – albeit expensive – opening spell from Trent Boult, who yet again took a wicket in his first over with the Kiwi paceman finishing with 3/46 in his four overs and the usual destructive force of the Sunrisers’ batting line-up never quite materialised. In the end, of course, it proved more than sufficient.

The Royals had won the toss and put their opponents in to bat. Abhishek Sharma smashed 12 off Boult’s first five balls but then miscued a pull to cover. His partner, the usually dynamic Travis Head, began cautiously, giving the stage to Rahul Tripathi who belted five fours and two sixes in his 37 off just 15 balls: a typical aggressive effort.

Both Head (34 in 28 balls) and Tripathi were caught trying to upper-cut slow bouncers from Sharma and Boult respectively, while Aiden Markram provided Chahal with the second of his hat-trick of good catches at short third-man.

It was a harum-scarum start to the innings with 68 coming in the powerplay but three wickets falling. The Royals kept on taking wickets – the Sunrisers were reduced to 120 for six in the 14th over – and it required a cool, calculated half-century from Klaasen to take his team to a respectable total.

Klaasen struck his fourth half-century of the tournament in 34 balls, including four sixes, some of them remarkable blows off the back foot to balls that barely seemed short of a length. He fell, however, in the penultimate over, the victim of a brilliant yorker from Sandeep Sharma.

SUNRISERS HYDERABAD: Travis Head, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nitish Kumar Reddy, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Abdul Samad, Pat Cummins (capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, T Natarajan

RAJASTHAN ROYALS: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Sanju Samson (capt, wk), Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Rovman Powell, Ravi Ashwin, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal